“I was walking along the road with two friends – when the sun went down. The Sky suddenly turned blood-red. I paused, leaned against the fence tired to death – above the blue-black fjord and city blood in flaming tongues hovered. My friends walked on and I stayed behind quaking with angst – and I felt as though a vast endless scream passed through nature”.
Reading these words, a painting symbol of anguish, loneliness and sadness comes to mind, doesn’t it? Yes, almost certainly. “The Scream” is the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch’s masterpiece and is one of the best-known works of all time.
There are several versions of this iconic painting. Among the best-known versions there is the oil one at the National Gallery in Oslo, which was stolen in 1994 and found shortly after. In 2012 the famous auction house Sotheby’s sold the pastel version for 120 million dollars. Another of the most important and best-known versions is the one at the Munch Museum in Oslo (Munchmuseet); however, it has a troubled past (like its author’s life), the piece was stolen in 2004, but when it was found a few years later it had unfortunately suffered a considerable damage. For this reason and to avoid any other deterioration, the painting has been kept in storage.
But here comes the cool part: surprising news arrived from the world of science. The Director at National Research Council of Italy (CNR – Institute of Heritage Science), Costanza Milani, together with her team has conducted several studies to understand the reason for the deterioration of the work. Thus, following important researches, the painting will again be admired by the whole world. The study showed that it was not the light to damage the colours as thought, but the moisture that once exceeded a certain percentage modifies the pigments, damaging them permanently. This seems to be an excellent news, since the painting should be kept at about 45% humidity and this rate can be easily kept under control.
The study was conducted in Grenoble, France, with some work fragments. And thanks to science, its investigations and X-ray tests, this discovery will certainly help to preserve many other works.
Now, or rather, when the end of the pandemic will allow us to return to a normal life, we will once again have the opportunity to admire “The Scream” in person.