He was five years old when his mother died, nine years later his older sister died. Both the victim of tuberculosis.
Edvard was often ill himself during childhood. Illness, sickness and death made their impression on him as he was growing up. His schooling was irregular and the home became the center of his early years. Here he got his first schooling, it was here he first learned to draw. The home experience and the family became the focal point of his most important subjects later as a mature artist.
Munch is Norway's undisputed international artist. Unlike most of the other great painters he had hardly any formal artistic training. In 1882-1883 he painted in a collective together with other young artists in Kristiania (now Oslo) and got advice from Christian Krogh. In 1885 he received economic support from Frits Thaulow for the purpose of traveling to Paris where a 3-week stay gave him impulses beyond the prevailing naturalistic landscape paintings.
While developing his own style he was severely criticized by critics and public alike.
His friend Christian Krohg was among the few that defended him:
"He paints, or rather regards, things in a way that is different from that of other artists. He sees only the essential, and that, naturally, is all he paints.
For this reason Munch’s pictures are as a rule ‘not complete’, as people are so delighted to discover for themselves.
Oh, yes, they are complete. His complete handiwork. Art is complete once the artist has really said everything that was on his mind, and this is precisely the advantage Munch has over painters of the other generation, that he really knows how to show us what he has felt, and what has gripped him, and to this he subordinates everything else."
On his return home he produced three paintings - The sick child, The Day after and Puberty. They were all completed in 1886 and marked a decisive turning point. He himself characterized The sick child as a cornerstone of his artistic development.
Edvard Munch said of the painting: "In it I forged a new path, it was a breakthrough in my art. Most of what I have done since found its birth in this painting... On the day of the opening when I entered the gallery people were crowded in front of the painting - I heard cries and laughter." Quoting the artist's own words.