Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” is one of the world’s most enduring paintings.
Its androgynous muse appears to be in some kind of agony and bold waves of color overwhelm the spectator. But what appears on the upper left corner of the masterpiece has intrigued the art world for decades. It reads, “Could only have been painted by a madman.”
There has been speculation that a vandal somehow inscribed the words on the 1893 painting, but the New York Times reported that curators at Norway’s National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design determined that the words were written by Munch himself.
Mai Britt Guleng, one of the curators, told the Times that he had been examining the inscription “letter by letter” and determined that it is “identical in every way to Munch’s handwriting.”
“So there is no more doubt,” he said.
The BBC reported that “The Scream” is the second-most recognizable work of art ever created, behind the master Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” The report said that Munch created four versions of the painting, but the most famous was from 1893. There is a theory that the figure in the painting is a self-portrait of Munch.
The Times reported that Munch took to a diary and said the painting was inspired by a “gust of melancholy.”
The inscription is not large enough to be noticed with the naked eye and the Times said that curators employed infrared photography to make out the lettering. The report said that the N and the D written in the inscription led the researchers to determine, “This is Munch.”