Munch was born in Norway, December 12, 1863 and grew up in Kristiania (now Oslo). He lost his mother, Laura Cathrine Bjølstad, to tuberculosis in 1868- when he was only 5 years old. After their mother's death, the Munch siblings were raised by their father, who was a fanatical christian and instilled in his children a deep-rooted fear by repeatedly telling them that if they sinned in any way, they would be doomed to hell without chance of pardon.
Edvard Munch's family and home situation, along with strict upbringing came to provide the inspiration for his most important motifs as a modern artist. One of Munch's younger sisters was diagnosed with mental illness at an early age. Edvard Munch was himself often sick in his childhood. He suffered from chronic asthmatic bronchitis and had several serious attacks of rheumatic fever.Of the five siblings only Andreas married, but he died a few months after the wedding. His older and favorite sister Sophie died of the tuberculosis in 1877.
Sophie was dying slowly, in fever, halucinating, begging for the rescue and life. Edvard was terrified by his own helplessness. His father- a medical doctor couldn't help his daughter. In 14 years old Edvard's eyes the God and his father were both quilty of Sophie's death.
From now on the death became a constant company in the life of Edvard Munch. Early childhood experience influenced all his art. He would later say:
"Sickness, insanity and death were the angels that surrounded my cradle and they have followed me throughout my life."
In 1879 Edvard, as his father wished, enters Technical College to become an engineer. Frequent absences due to illness, however, led to large gaps in his attendance and in the autumn of 1880 he took the decision of his life and left college.
'My decision is now namely to be a painter',
he wrote in his diary on 8 November.
And in 1881 he enrolls at the Royal School of Art and Design.
That year he paints his first self portrait.