Mystery Of 'Madman' Message Unraveled In Munch's 'The Scream'

  • February 22, 2021 12:39

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Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” National Museum of Norway.

Edvard Munch's The Scream, one of the most well-known artworks in the world, includes a long-held mystery in a faint written message in the top-left corner of the painting.

The tiny inscription "Can only have been painted by a madman," once considered a vandal's scrawl, has been determined to be by the artist's own hand. 

New research and infrared technology conducted by the National Museum of Norway has concluded that Munch wrote the phrase himself. The rarely-exhibited work, briefly stolen in 2004, is under restoration.

Curators compared the phrase with Munch's handwritten notes and letters, and considered events surrounding the work's first public showing. "The writing is without a doubt Munch's own," Mai Britt Guleng, the museum's curator, concluded. "The handwriting itself, as well as events that happened in 1895, when Munch showed the painting in Norway for the first time, all point in the same direction."
"At a discussion night at the Students Association, where Munch is believed to have been present, the young medical student Johan Scharffenberg questioned Munch's mental health claiming that his paintings proved he was not of sound mind," the museum said. "It is likely that Munch added the inscription in 1895, or shortly after in response to the judgment on his work."

Read more at CNN

Tags: european art

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