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The Secret Scream

from Architectural Digest

Revealed: The Secret History Behind Edvard Munch’s The Scream

A previously unnoticed sentence etched in a top corner of the painting has scholars debating who wrote the words, and why they might’ve done it

By Nick Mafi

man next to painting
Edvard Munch’s The Scream was completed by the Norwegian artist in 1893. Photo: Getty Images/Oli Scarff

There are perhaps a handful of paintings so iconic, they’ve come to represent images of our time: Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Picasso’s Guernica, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Munch’s The Scream are a few that come to mind. So well researched are these works, that nearly nothing new is left to explore with them; we visualize them in the same way as a can of Coca-Cola or McDonald’s Golden Arches. But what happens when something new, something previously unnoticed grabs our attention? For The Scream, Edvard Munch’s best-known painting, a tiny inscription consisting of eight words, written in pencil, at the upper left corner of its frame is getting attention like never before.

“Could only have been painted by a madman”: Eight words written in Norwegian have stirred a debate among scholars and art fans alike, raising the question, “Who wrote these words?” Some have argued it could only have been Munch who inscribed the ominous sentence, while others contend it must’ve been the hand of a vandal who etched them onto the canvas. But it’s not just who scribbled the words into the top of the painting, but why? Before concluding this, we must consider the artist in question.

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Posted on May 11, 2021 by Editor

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