This thesis concerns six Swedish paintings depicting sick or convalescent individuals; Richard Bergh’s Konvalescent (unfinished, 1886), Flickan och Döden (1888), Eva Bonnier’s Magdalena (1887), Gustaf Magnusson’s Konvalescent (1933), Jenny Nyström’s Konvalescenten (1884), and Georg Pauli’s Vid sjukbädden (1885). The purpose of this study is to examine how sickness is portrayed and staged using performative theory and visual semiotics. The thesis takes into account that tuberculosis, being a widespread disease during the 18th and 19th Century, made it a topic of exploration in the contemporary art. With this as the framework the thesis examines whether or not it is possible to diagnose the depicted individuals. The results shows that sickness first and foremost is portrayed and staged in signs regarding the body: the face, the hands, and how the body is posed. Lastly, it is suggested that these artworks can be seen as cultural symbols of TB, since not being viable for a strictly medicinal diagnosis they are more the result of the contemporary need to examine TB and its effects on society and culture. The paintings becomes – such as a body is a vessel for a disease – vessels for the disease culturally speaking.