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Museum in Norway found the word ‘madman’ hidden in Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting

22 Feb 2021 / 16:46 H.

Edvard Munch apparently hid a sentence on his painting titled The Scream.

According to the BBC, the words, “Can only be painted by a madman,” are inscribed in pencil in the top left-hand corner.

Tests by The National Museum of Norway via infrared scans have confirmed that the writings are made by Edvard Munch himself. They analysed the handwriting on the painting to Munch’s own handwriting in his diaries and letters, and came to the conclusion that it matched.

"The writing is without a doubt Munch's own," said museum curator Mai Britt Guleng.

"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."

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

The original painting was first displayed in Munch’s home city Oslo in 1883 and has become a radical and timeless expression of human anxiety.

In 1994, The Scream was stolen from a Norwegian art museum but it was recovered in a daring undercover operation by British detectives.

Why did he write on his painting?

It is believed that Munch wrote the sentence on his painting when he was hurt by the reaction to his artwork. His hurt feelings were detailed in his diary.

The artwork provoked a strong criticism then and triggered a public speculation about his mental state.

Sadly, Munch’s father and sister suffered bouts of depression and Munch himself was hospitalised after a nervous breakdown in 1908.

His mother and older sister died before he turned 14 while another sister was admitted to an asylum with bipolar disorder.

"For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art," Munch wrote.

"Without this anxiety and illness I would have been like a ship without a rudder."

Becoming a timeless masterpiece

In 2019, BBC Arts wrote that the work was “an expression of his anxiety at a turning point in history, in a world increasingly cut loose from old traditions.” In other words, the painting reflected a lot of parallels with the worries of the world of today.

"This is surely why The Scream retains its power despite its ubiquity: it's a mirror of our own contemporary fears. Inside, aren't we all screaming too?"

The Scream will be displayed with Munch’s other works, including Madonna, The Dance of Life and Self-Portrait with Cigarette, in The National Museum of Norway from 2022.

Here is theSun’s take on his famous painting, The Scream.

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