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“Can only have been painted by a madman”,

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Edvard Munch wrote 'madman' graffiti on Screampainting, scans show

The famous 1893 painting will be displayed in the new National Museum of Norway from 2022IMAGECOPYRIGHTNATIONAL MUSEUM OF NORWAY

image captionThe famous 1893 painting will bedisplayed in the new National Museum of Norway from 2022

Artist Edvard Munch wrote mysteriousgraffiti on his painting of The Scream, infrared scans have shown.

A small and barely visible sentence writtenon one of the world's most well-known paintings has been the cause of muchconjecture in the art world.

The words, "Can only have been paintedby a madman", are inscribed in pencil in the top left-hand corner.

Now, new tests made by The National Museumof Norway have confirmed they were made by the man himself.

The original painting, first displayed inMunch's home city Oslo(then Kristiania) in 1893, has become a radical and timeless expression ofhuman anxiety. Its influence stretches as far as the 90s Hollywood Screamhorror film series, and on to the modern-day emoji.

The artwork has undergone conservation inpreparation for its instalment in the new museum, which is due to open in theNorwegian capital next year.

Theoriginal emoji: Why the scream is still an icon for today

Munch inspiredby 'screaming clouds'

Munch’s Scream and the artof anguish

Art critics have long questioned whetherthe graffiti was an act of vandalism done by an outraged spectator, or writtenby Munch himself - who was known to have had mental health problems throughouthis life.

The museum came to the conclusion the wordswere written by Munch, after using technology to analyse the handwriting andcompare it with his own diaries and letters.

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, painting a self-portrait on a beach in Germany in 1907IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES

image captionNorwegian painter EdvardMunch, painting a self-portrait on a beach in Germany in 1907

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

"The handwriting itself, as well asevents that happened in 1895, when Munch showed the painting in Norway for thefirst time, all point in the same direction."

In 1994, The Scream was stolen from aNorwegian art museum. It was recovered in a daring undercover operation byBritish detectives.

'Deep feeling of anxiety'

The work provoked strong criticism at thetime along with public speculation around Munch's mental state.

Munch, according to his diaries, wasprofoundly hurt by the reaction and it's believed he returned to the paintingto add his pencilled statement afterwards.

Both Munch's father and sister sufferedbouts of depression and Munch was finally hospitalised after a nervousbreakdown in 1908.

His mother and older sister both diedbefore the artist turned 14, his father died 12 years later and another sisterwas admitted to an asylum, with bipolar disorder.

media captionWitness: Going undercover toretrieve Munch's Scream

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

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

In2019, BBC Arts wrote that the work was "an expression of hisanxiety at a turning point in history, in a world increasingly cut loose fromold traditions," noting that "there are clear parallels in the worldof today.

"This is surely why The Scream retainsits 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 a numberof Munch's other works, including Madonna, The Dance of Life and Self-Portraitwith Cigarette, in The National Museum of Norway from 2022.

 

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