A piece of graffiti along the rolling clouds at Edvard Munch‘s ‘The Scream’ has puzzled art historians for a century. Now, that mystery has been resolved as the message has been deciphered. The sentence, which read, “Can only have been painted by a madman,” was thought to be added after 1893 by a disgruntled onlooker or Munch himself. The answer to the mystery of who wrote the secret message was settled by modern technology, as My Modern Met details:
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Using infrared photography to compare handwriting to Munch’s letters and journals, experts at the National Museum of Norway claim the words are in fact the artist’s own.
As part of Norwegian Expressionism, Munch painted several versions of The Scream. The painting with the hidden message is the original, dating to 1893. According to the artist, he got the idea for the haunting image when he experienced a hallucination on a sunset walk. The feeling of pain which radiates from the central figure was quite disconcerting to audiences when the painting was first exhibited. Suggestions were made that the work indicated the artist’s mental state. For this reason, scholars have wondered if an anonymous hand had carved the message calling Munch a “madman.”
image via My Modern Met