Mystery of the strange clouds from the painting “the Scream”

Mystery of the strange clouds from the painting “the Scream”

One of the most recognizable paintings in the world — “the Scream” by Edvard Munch depicted a screaming, obviously terrified people in the background of a strange orange wavy clouds. Scholars have suggested, why is the sky the canvas depicts exactly that.

In paper presented at the meeting of the European geophysical Union in Vienna, advanced a theory according to which the Norwegian artist was inspired by a rare atmospheric phenomenon — the so-called nacreous clouds. The researcher Helena Muri from the University of Oslo notes that once Munch had described something similar in his diary: in his words, the sky suddenly became “bloody,” reports The Daily Mail.

Nacreous clouds or polar stratospheric clouds are formed in the lower stratosphere (at an altitude of 20-30 km) in the winter-spring period, mainly in the polar regions with anomalously low temperatures. During the day they are not visible, to see them only at dusk or at dawn.

Scientists know that in the Oslo area in the late nineteenth century (there then lived and worked Munch) these clouds were seen. “They are so beautiful that you may seem like you’re in another world,” wrote one observer of the time in his diary.

‘Mother-of-pearl’ clouds may have inspired Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’

— Telegraph World News (@TelegraphWorld) 24 APR 2017
Look like pearly clouds

Like pearly clouds were observed in the South-East of Norway in 2014, and their striking similarity with the paintings of Munch inspired scientists for the study.

In 2004, the American astronomers have suggested that the color of the sky in the painting by Munch is caused by emissions of particles in the eruption of the volcano Krakatau in 1883. But, according to Muri, volcanic emissions does not explain the waviness of the clouds. In addition, after the eruption remained suspended in the sky for several years, and the mother-of-pearl clouds is a rare phenomenon, and because it could make such a strong impression on the artist, believes the researcher.

“Edvard Munch could well scared when he saw that the sky suddenly became blood red. Thus, there is a possibility that this phenomenon was the impetus for the creation of the Scream,” says Muri, which, however, insists that her theory is true. “We, the representatives of the natural Sciences, tend to look for answers in nature, while psychologists believe that the story and paint the picture represent the inner torment of the artist,” she says.