This painting is a painful memory of Munch's family suffered in his childhood, and it depicts the scene of his 15-year-old sister Sophia got sick. Although she hadn't lost her childish temperament, she was thin and pale for tortured by lung disease which would take away her life. This indelible impression deeply buried in Edvard Munch's memory, so he painted it exactly the same as the fact. Because the painting was filled with tragic atmosphere and its deep dark hue made people uncomfortable, so when it was on display at the annual exhibition in Norway, it was attacked by the conservative forces. Therefore, Munch had to draw this painting again with academic techniques and renamed it Spring. Unexpectedly, he won the national scholarship with it and went to Paris for study.
When Munch was 26, he said: "I want to describe those people who are struggling for living, feelings, pain, and love." So someone said he was "The modern portrait painter who depicted the human’s mind."
When Munch was a child, his mother and elder sister died of lung disease one after another, then his father and one of his younger brothers passed away next, while his younger sister was suffering from a mental illness. His family tragedy made such a deep trauma to Munch, and affected the development of his artistic thought. For this picture, he said: "The Sick Child opened a new path to me, so it became the first onrush on my way of art, and made a great contribution to the creation of most of my subsequent works." He attempted to explore people's perception of disease and death, so he went to visit patients for observing their demeanor in order to truly reveal the theme.
The mother in this painting suffers despair and sorrow in her heart for the child's misfortune. Besides, the empty room strengthens the bleak atmosphere of impending death. This piece of work uses figurative language to convey human’s inner spiritual world.
This was the first time Munch exposed his conscience in his painting. Like the other works which was created in his youth, this painting was painted on the basis of Munch's own personal experiences. He depicted the sad look of frail patient, and the whole house surrounded by darkness.