“Kan kun være paintts af en gal Mand!” The Norwegian painter wrote of his most famous painting, “The Scream,”: “It could have been painted by only a madman!” Infrared photos in the Norwegian National Museum confirm that Munch himself published this note Oslo.
The engraving has always been visible with the naked eye, says responsible curator, May Brett Golling, but the infrared images now help distinguish the writing more clearly from its background. In a press release, she explained that the comparison with the artist’s handwriting clearly demonstrated that Munch was the author.
Lettering was first noted in 1904, eleven years after the image was created. At that time the artwork was shown in Copenhagen. Critics assumed that the angry scenes had spoiled the painting.
Indeed, the Expressionist work sparked discussions from the start, as his mental state was openly discussed even in the presence of Munch. Golling quotes the art critic and museum director Henrik Grouch, who wrote at the beginning of the twentieth century that in light of this image, “Munch can no longer be considered a sane person with a normal mind.” This was a common opinion.
The entries and letters of Munch’s diary show that the artist suffered from this affiliation. Munch was also concerned about hereditary diseases in general. Both his grandfather and father were suffering from depression, as it was called at the time, ”Golling says. Munch’s sister was also temporarily treated in psychiatry.
The Scream was first exhibited in October 1895 at a private art gallery in Christiana, now Oslo. The note on “Schrei” may have been created right after the Student Club event, where participants discussed the image and mental state of Munch. “The engraving can be understood as a satirical comment, but also as an expression of the weakness of the artist,” says Golling. There are a total of four versions of the “Schrei”, only one of which contains the sentence.