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Sick Girl, Christian Krohg - Description of the Painting

04 May 2022
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Sick Girl - Christian Krohg.


This painting by the Norwegian artist leaves quite an ambiguous impression. At first glance, the viewer sees a young girl just sitting in an armchair. But, should one and look closely at this canvas, significant details will be revealed, telling the audience that this young, fragile creature is not really idly resting on her armchair.

Most likely, the girl is either seriously sick or recovering after a long illness. Looking at her sad face featuring the big suffering eyes, a compassionate and sensitive viewer, not aware about the history of the creation of this painting, could think out a whole story of her short life.

Considering the number of the cases of galloping consumption at the time when this picture was being worked on, it would be fair to assume that we are seeing a terminally ill girl. This is implied by a soft pillow behind the girl’s back, and her legs carefully covered with a warm blanket. Apparently sore eyes stare at the viewer, as if trying to remember this huge shining world, no longer available to this young girl.

One element on the painting clearly indicates the frailty of being and the brevity of human life - a delicate rose, as fragile and vulnerable as the girl herself. The girl’s hands are pulling the shoot, mercilessly breaking off the fragile leaves, which crumble, falling on a blanket to the ground. This is the most striking allegory of the mortality of all living things.

The picture is made with large and expressive brushstrokes, particularly spectacular in the image of a girl’s white dress or shirt. They perfectly convey heavily wrinkled clothes. But in the image of the plaid, the different strokes were used, to emphasize its softness and density.

There are no details in the present painting, as, indeed, in most other works by this artist. A smooth olive background, a dark carved armchair and white clothing, a pillow and a blanket allow viewer to focus all attention on the girl’s face and hands, and on a delicate pink rose.

Two red stripes on the blanket and its edge trimmed with red thread resemble the bloody wounds that crossing out the whiteness of her earthly existence.
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