A few metres from him are two gentlemen who seem to walk away chatting. Further into the background is the sea, and there are several vessels in the water. The sky looks unusually red. However, given that the title talks of sunset, the rays of the sun could be giving it a deep orange colour. This image would later transition into another one called Scream in about two years, which also talks of the same topic in more of a sketch than a painting. Edvard was on holiday with a friend called Christian Skredsvig in Nice South France when he decided to take a walk on the road above Oslo fjord. He was not feeling well during the evening, so he made a stop by the side of the road. On raising his head to the sky, Edvard saw the clouds looking as red as blood, so much that it affected his mood.
It shocked him so much that he kept repeating the story to his friends several months down the line. His friends had gotten rather sick of the account and advised him to make a painting of the same to get it off his chest. These events resulted in him painting Despair and later Scream. The painter had a rather tough childhood where he lost both parents and a favourite sister. Such experiences drove him to create paintings that show dark moments of his life. Despair was not an exception. The vivid use of colours creates the moment of anxiety when he looked at the sky and was shocked about the deep red colour of the clouds. He does not say where he was sick, but the word despair may have come from the feeling of giving up due to poor health and the generally negative perception of the world.
Edvard was one of the popular artists who used expressionism style of art. With the style, artists depicted the subject’s reaction to objects and events around them rather than the objective reality. Therefore, objects in the painting may look distorted or exaggerated to convey the general interpretation in the mind of the subject. The style also uses vivid colours to convey mood and represent items that are only found in the mind of the subject. This painting is available for viewing at the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.