The Famed Painting The Scream Holds a Hidden Message

by akoloy

Kan kun være malet af en gal Mand!” (“Can only have been painted by a madman!”) seems on Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s most well-known portray The Scream. Infrared images at Norway’s National Museum in Oslo lately confirmed that Munch himself wrote this word.

The inscription has at all times been seen to the bare eye, however the infrared photographs helped to extra clearly distinguish the writing from its background. Comparing it with the artist’s handwriting then clearly proved Munch’s authorship.

“The finding closes the question about who the author of the inscription was,” says Mai Britt Guleng, a curator on the National Museum. “The [infrared] photo gave a clear image of the sentence, and this made it possible to systematically compare the handwriting, which is identical to Munch’s. The size of the letters are also too small for anyone to have written them as an act of vandalism.”

The inscription was first observed in 1904, 11 years after its creation. At that point, the art work was exhibited in Copenhagen. Critics assumed that an outraged viewer had defaced the portray. The Expressionist work provoked dialogue from the outset, with Munch’s way of thinking being overtly broached even in his presence. Art critic and museum director Henrik Grosch wrote firstly of the twentieth century that this portray indicated that Munch “could no longer be considered “a serious man with a normal brain”—an opinion that was shared by others apart from Grosch.

Infrared picture of the inscription. Credit: Børre Høstland National Museum

Diary entries and letters by Munch display that the artist suffered from this notion. They present “a man who is both ready to provoke but who is also vulnerable,” Guleng says. Munch was involved about hereditary diseases. His grandfather and father suffered from melancholia, as despair was then known as. Munch’s sister Laura was additionally handled in a psychiatric ward at instances. “There was hereditary diseases in Munch’s family—mental, nervous illness and tuberculosis,”Guleng says. “Munch and his siblings were worried about this.”

The Scream was first exhibited in October 1895 at a non-public artwork gallery in Christiania, now Oslo. (There are 4 variations of the the portray, solely one among which incorporates the word.) It was presumably written after a pupil membership occasion, the place members debated The Scream and Munch’s psychological state. Guleng says what Munch wrote was ironic. “The inscription says that the painting could only have been painted [by] a madman,” Guleng says. “Coming from the artist himself, who clearly did not believe himself to be mad, [it] is ironic. The inscription can also be seen as a way to take control of his own life and his own feelings. It is an unorthodox thing to do—to write on your own painting. However, in this way, he shows that he is in charge of the situation.”

Infrared know-how found that the writing on the portray belonged to Munch. Credit: Annar Bjorgli National Museum

This article initially appeared in Spektrum der Wissenschaft and was reproduced with permission.

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