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"Office Xmas Party, London Society of Morticians, 1905"

Edvard Monk

Monk is universally regarded as the godfather of Depressionism. He sought out situations which accented the general misery of the human species, and his execution and color schemes were designed to put even a blonde cheerleader into a morbid state. Some of his more popular works, if we can be permitted the term, include "I Scream, You Scream, Someone Poisoned the Ice Cream," and the double portrait "Flaming June and her Sister, Smoldering Sarah." There is also the diptych "Despairing Figure on the Bridge/Despairing Figure no Longer on the Bridge."

For this work, Monk arranged an invitation to the LSM party through his relationship with Lurana DeBile, shown here facing the viewer. She was already suffering from galloping consumption and Monk was careful to complete her face ahead of any of the other figures in case she began hemorrhaging, keeled over and died on him. The gentleman with the beard in the background is Dr. Arbuthnot, founder of the LSM and its President until his suicide shortly after the painting was finished. The figure in the foreground chair is already deceased, but the Society decided to bring her up from the mortuary and prop her in place just to keep up the Xmas spirit. The woman to the far right has just received her Xmas bonus of a shilling, which will prove insufficient for her to pay for her father's release from Debtor's Prison for the holiday.

The other figures are unidentified, although the man to the far left is believed to be the one who opened all the gas cocks before he was subdued.


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