Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863–1944)
image: 14 1/16 x 9 5/16 in. (35.7 x 23.6 cm); sheet: 20 1/4 x 15 5/8 in. (51.4 x 39.7 cm)
Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.1203.1)
The extreme familiarity of this image today makes it hard to realize how shocking it and other works by Munch were when they were created slightly over a hundred years ago. Munch's art represented his own emotions, mostly the darker ones of fear, dread, loneliness, and sexual longing, with extraordinary expressiveness. The screaming figure personifies existential horror. A precursor of this image is a drawing of a man (Munch himself) on a similar bridge, with a blood-red sky above. A text accompanying this drawing states: "I walked with two friends. Then the sun sank. Suddenly the sky turned as red as blood My friends walked on, and I was left alone, trembling with fear. I felt as if all nature were filled with one mighty unending shriek."