Edvard Munch

Lots of things turned Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch into the thoroughly miserable bloke he was (though you\'d never guess it from his paintings, would you?), including his mum\'s death when he was five, the religious mania and death of his father and the death of his brother. And then there were the other family illnesses and tragedies, not to mention his problems with ... girls.

So, (having decided to give stand-up comedy a miss) Edvard made up his mind to be an artist, spent some years at art school in Christiania (younger readers, that\'s Oslo) and by 1885, was working out his inner turmoils with oils like \'The Sick Girl\', prompted by his sister\'s death from TB (forgot to mention that one).

The hard times continued and in 1894 he was thrown out of his German digs because he couldn\'t pay the rent, spending days not eating and tramping the pavements of Berlin. And in the early 1890s he managed to shoot his own finger off during a kerfuffle with a jilted girlfriend. In spite (or because) of these setbacks his artistic output was phenomenal and in a 17-year period he painted enough pictures to supply over 100 exhibitions in Europe and America.

By 1908 he\'d worked and drunk himself into the ground and cracked up completely. When he recovered he gave up booze and travel and settled in Norway, ending up on his own country estate. However, perhaps not wanting to be accused of living happily ever after, he produced series of utterly gloomy self-portraits, prior to dying from bronchitis.