Great art often hides mysteries that pass, unsolved, to future generations. Perhaps the most famous case is “Mona Lisa”, the well-known painting by the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci which remains at the center of many hypotheses and conspiracy theories. But “Gioconda” is not an isolated situation.
Here, from time to time, with the help of advanced technology or extraordinary luck, another veil falls, thus revealing fragments of a past that historians are eager to confront with the already existing evidence.
This is also the case with the famous painting “The Scream”, signed by Edvard Munch. The work of art, made in 1893, stood out not only by the technique and emotion transmitted, but also by a small inscription: “It could only be painted by a madman.”
For a long time, the hypothesis was circulated that the work was vandalized by an unknown person during an exhibition. Others were convinced from the beginning that the artist himself left the message of posterity, but did not understand the reasons for such a gesture.
The curators of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Norway, which holds the painting, announced on Monday their conclusion: “(Inscription – no.) Has been examined very carefully, word for word and letter for letter, and is identical in all respects with Munch’s handwriting, “said Mai Britt Guleng, one of the experts involved in the research. “There is no doubt about it.”
Munch painted four versions of the painting “The Scream” between 1893-1910. The inscription appears only on the first of these.
In his diary, Munch wrote that the painting was inspired by “a burst of melancholy.” It soon became a symbol of existential anguish and was called the “Mona Lisa of modern art”, later being widely reproduced and copied.
In an exhibition dedicated to Munch and Van Gogh, curator Maite van Dijk explained that “madness was often linked to artistic expression in the nineteenth century, partly reflecting the mythical status of both artists.”
“By choosing to write directly on the painting, Munch playfully explores this side of his image,” van Dijk added. “It simply came to our notice then. It could be a rhetorical question or it could be a statement. Who asks the question? Does it paraphrase the critic or the audience? This is part of everything Munch does. He speaks in secret and does not give clear answers. ”
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