Art

Hidden ‘madman’ message on ‘The Scream’ traced back to Munch himself

Written in faint pencil lines on the corner of the world-famous painting is the phrase: “Could only have been painted by a madman!”

A small and barely visible sentence written on one of the world’s most well-known paintings has been the cause of much conjecture in the art world.

The words, “Can only have been painted by a madman”, are inscribed in pencil in the top left-hand corner.

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

The faint inscription, written in pencil, is visible to the naked eye but it isn’t very clear. “It’s been very difficult to interpret,” Thierry Ford, the paintings conservator at the National Museum of Norway said in a statement. “Through a microscope, you can see that the pencil lines are physically on top of the paint and have been applied after the painting was finished.” But it wasn’t clear when or why.

Art critics have long questioned whether the graffiti was an act of vandalism done by an outraged spectator, or written by Munch himself – who was known to have had mental health problems throughout his life.

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

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