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'The Sick Child' touches on the fragility of life. It draws upon Munch’s personal memories, including the trauma of his sister’s death, and visits to dying patients with his doctor father. He described the 1885 painting as ‘a breakthrough in my art’ and made several subsequent versions, of which this is the fourth. Acquired by the city of Dresden in 1928, it was displayed in the Gemäldegalerie. A decade later, the Nazis declared that Munch’s art was ‘degenerate’ and, in November 1938, all his works in German public collections were collected in Berlin for auction. The Norwegian dealer Harald Holst Halvorsen secured as many as possible, including 'The Sick Child', and returned them safely to Oslo. Thomas Olsen bought the painting in 1939 and gave it to the Tate.
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The Sick Child (Det syke barn)
Oil on canvas
H 118.7 x W 121 cm
Presented by Thomas Olsen 1939