Norway's most popular artist,
died in 1944, aged 81. He was a
painter, lithographer, etcher
and wood engraver, most famous
for his paintings of The
Scream. . He created five different variations of
The Scream (4 paintings and
one lithograph) which is
fortunate as the Norwegians do
seem to have a habit of losing
them. In 1994 one was stolen
from Oslo's National Gallery,
and then in 2004 another
version was stolen from the
Munch Museum (a tempura
on cardboard version) along with
Three men have been convicted of
the 2004 theft but the painting
has not been recovered. You
can read the fascinating story
of the 1994 theft (which reads
like something out of an
Inspector Clouseau movie) and
eventual recovery in
The Rescue Artist. (A
photograph of the thieves
getting away with the two
Some years after completing the paintings, Munch wrote in his diary (in reference to his inspiration for The Scream), "I felt a trace of sadness and the sky suddenly turned blood red. I stopped walking, leaned against the railing...I watched the flaming clouds over the fjord.....I stood there shaking with fear and I felt a great unending scream penetrate unending nature."
Some scientists now believe that the vivid sunset Munch saw was caused by the fallout from Krakatoa's eruption, which caused exceptional sunsets across Europe in the winter of 1883-4.
This article was originally published in August 2005, and has been updated for the
July 2006 paperback release.
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