This work — part of the exhibit Between the Clock and the Bed at The Met Breuer — is a precursor to the first version of Edvard Munch’s famous painting, The Scream (1893). In fact, the artist later referred to it as “the first Scream.” On January 22, 1892, while in Nice, where he painted Sick Mood at Sunset, Munch recorded in his diary and event that had taken place years earlier in Norway:
“I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun set. I felt a tinge of melancholy. Suddenly, the sky became a bloody red. I stopped, leaned against the railing, dead tired and looked at the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and city. My friends walked on. I stood there trembling with fright. And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.”
The dramatic diagonal perspective of the railing emphasizes the figure’s isolation and despair.