The Scream may not have been screaming: Edward Munch’s iconic artwork shows no such thing

The picture The Scream (above) is actually said to depict a person hearing a scream rather than them screaming themself

The picture The Scream (above) is actually said to depict a person hearing a scream rather than them screaming themself

The picture The Scream (above) is actually said to depict a person hearing a scream rather than them screaming themself

It is one of the world’s most famous artworks and is widely thought to depict a man screaming.

But The Scream, by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, actually shows no such thing, according to the British Museum. Instead, it is claimed, it depicts someone hearing a scream.

The museum is to exhibit a rare black and white print of the piece as part of the largest collection of Munch’s works in the UK in half a century. Curator Giulia Bartrum said the public has widely misinterpreted the artwork.

‘This rare version of The Scream that we’re displaying makes clear that Munch’s most famous artwork depicts a person hearing a “scream” and not, as many people continue to assume and debate, a person screaming,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.

However, she added that we don’t know whether the scream is ‘real or psychological’.

The lithographic print features an inscription underneath the photo which reads: ‘I felt the great scream throughout nature.’

Gallery technicians at the British Museum in London prepare for the new exhibition

Gallery technicians at the British Museum in London prepare for the new exhibition

Gallery technicians at the British Museum in London prepare for the new exhibition 

The words are a reference to the moment Munch had the idea for the painting, when he saw the sky turn blood red during a stroll in Oslo in 1892. Miss Bartrum said Munch ‘deliberately included the caption’ on this rare black and white version in order to show ‘how his inspiration came from the anxiety he suddenly felt’ at that moment.

She added: ‘He was trying to capture an emotion or moment in time. Through the inscription we know how he felt.

‘People think this is a screaming person but that’s not what is going on. It is a man hearing, whether in his head or not. He feels the sensation of nature screaming all around him.

‘I have no doubt that this iconic figure is reacting to nature’s external forces on that hillside.’

The exhibition, Edvard Munch: Love And Angst, runs from April 11 to July 21.

A black and white version of The Scream is set to be shown at the British Museum in London

A black and white version of The Scream is set to be shown at the British Museum in London

A black and white version of The Scream is set to be shown at the British Museum in London 

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