5 Things You Didn't Know About "The Scream"

On May 7, 1994, Norway’s most famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, was recovered almost three months after it was stolen from a museum in Oslo Here are five things you didn't know about one of the most famous paintings in the world...

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The Thieves Left a Thank You Note On the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer on February 12, 1994, most people were busy watching the games, so the streets were fairly empty when the painting was stolen from the National Gallery during daylight hours.  The security around The Scream was more than lax. Adding insult to injury, the thieves left a polite note saying, “Thanks for the poor security.”  The painting was recovered three months later, and four men stood trial for the robbery. However, a legal technicality meant all four were later released without charge.

“The Scream” Isn’t a Single Piece of Art. The copy of The Scream that you see on display at Oslo's National Museum is not the only version of the famous howling face. Munch created a series of artworks with the same general image, first starting with paint and then using crayons and pastels before creating the painted version we know today. Munch had also created a sketch called Despair in 1892, one year before his first version of The Scream. The sketch shows a man looking into the distance while standing on a walkway or bridge, similar to the positioning of the figure in The Scream. However, in Despair, the figure has his back turned to the viewer. Munch also mass-produced the final version of The Scream using a lithograph.

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It Influenced Two Major Franchises Modern movies and other popular media regularly reference classic works, even if you don't realize it while you're watching, reading, or listening to the media. The Scream is no exception to the rule, and if you're a fan of the Scream movie franchise or Doctor Who, you may have seen The Scream's influence. The Scream movies actually didn't get their titles from the painting; that title has more to do with the fact that the Scream movies are about horror films and tropes. But the mask worn by the killer was directly influenced by the face of the figure in The Scream. In Doctor Who, the menace known as the Silence was also based on The Scream.

The Scream Was Stolen Again in 2004 A Different Version of the Painting was Stolen in 2004.Art thieves targeted another version of the painting at the Munch Museum itself on August 22, 2004. This time, the thieves stole “The Scream” and added Munch’s painting titled “Madonna” to their haul. It took two years to recover the pieces of art, and the investigation was helped along by a criminal awaiting sentencing who wanted to make a deal.

A Candy Company Posted The Sweet Reward Mars, Inc. was getting ready to introduce its new line of dark chocolate M&Ms, so the company offered a reward of 2 million dark chocolate M&M’s for the return of The Scream. When the painting was recovered, Mars decided the police on the case deserved the candy. The police turned down the candy but asked that the cash value of it ($22,000.) go to the Munch Museum.