The Sky in Edvard Munch’s The Scream

The Sky in Edvard Munch’s The Scream AbstractThe Scream is a well-known painting by Edvard Munch (1863–1944). The Norwegian word used by Munch is “skrik,” which can be translated as “shriek” or “scream.” The Scream may be of interest to meteorologists because of the quite striking representation of the sky. It has been suggested that the dramatic red-colored sky was inspired by a volcanic sunset seen by Munch after the Krakatau eruption in 1883 and by a sighting of stratospheric nacreous clouds, and also that it is part of the artist’s expression of a scream from nature. The evidence for the volcanic sunset theory and Munch’s psyche are briefly reviewed. We provide support that Munch’s inspiration may have been from a sighting of nacreous clouds, observable from southern Norway during the winter months. We show that the colors and patterns of the sky in Munch’s painting match the sunset colors better if nacreous clouds are present. Their sudden appearance around and after sunset creates an impressive and dramatic effect. By comparing the color content of photographs and paintings of regular sunsets, volcanic sunsets, and nacreous clouds after sunset with the color content of the sky in The Scream, the match is better with nacreous clouds present. If this conjecture is correct, then Munch’s sky in The Scream represents one of the earliest visual documentations of a nacreous cloud display. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society American Meteorological Society

The Sky in Edvard Munch’s The Scream

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1520-0477
eISSN
1520-0477
D.O.I.
10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0144.1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractThe Scream is a well-known painting by Edvard Munch (1863–1944). The Norwegian word used by Munch is “skrik,” which can be translated as “shriek” or “scream.” The Scream may be of interest to meteorologists because of the quite striking representation of the sky. It has been suggested that the dramatic red-colored sky was inspired by a volcanic sunset seen by Munch after the Krakatau eruption in 1883 and by a sighting of stratospheric nacreous clouds, and also that it is part of the artist’s expression of a scream from nature. The evidence for the volcanic sunset theory and Munch’s psyche are briefly reviewed. We provide support that Munch’s inspiration may have been from a sighting of nacreous clouds, observable from southern Norway during the winter months. We show that the colors and patterns of the sky in Munch’s painting match the sunset colors better if nacreous clouds are present. Their sudden appearance around and after sunset creates an impressive and dramatic effect. By comparing the color content of photographs and paintings of regular sunsets, volcanic sunsets, and nacreous clouds after sunset with the color content of the sky in The Scream, the match is better with nacreous clouds present. If this conjecture is correct, then Munch’s sky in The Scream represents one of the earliest visual documentations of a nacreous cloud display.

Journal

Bulletin of the American Meteorological SocietyAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Jul 10, 2018

References

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