Munch works found in seized Nazi art haul

Sixteen works by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch have been found among the more than 1,400 works believed to have been seized by the Nazis and then found last year in the apartment of a reclusive collector in Munich.

Munch works found in seized Nazi art haul
Melancholy III - Museum of Modern Art in New York
The works found in Cornelius Gurlitt's home, which could be worth several million dollars, include an early version of Munch's woodcut work Melancholy, and his portrait of Swedish writer August Strindberg. 
Another version of Melancholy, titled Melancholy III, sold for 2.3 million kroner ($377,000) at an art auction in 2006. One of the four versions of Munch's most famous work, The Scream, sold for $119.9 million in 2012. 

"I'd have been surprised if you hadn't found some works by Munch among these images," Morten Zondag at Oslo art dealers Kaare Berntsen told NRK. "His art was classified as 'degenerate' by the Nazis, and was removed from German museums and collections in the 30s." 
Germany's Nazi government of the 1930s emptied Germany's museums of 82 Munch works,  along with works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Henri Matisse. 
Gurlitt's father Hildebrand was one of four art dealers appointed to find buyers for the art works, making a fortune selling them on internationally. As the situation for Jewish collectors in Nazi Germany worsened, the stream of works which went through his hands included the contents of fire sales by Jewish businessmen, and then works seized by the Nazis. 
In February 2012, German police seized the artworks in a raid n Gurlitt's apartment. A German government task force is now working through the paintings, prints and drawings, seeking to establish which were purchased legally, and which were works seized or extorted from their owners. 
After the Nazi occupation of Norway in 1940, Munch lived in fear of having his own personal collection seized. 
Here are the Munch works found amongst those seized: 
August Strindberg
Birgitte In
Birgitte III
Women of the skeleton
Pretenders: Earl and Margaret
Burrowing workers
The big snow landscape
Ingeborg Heiberg
Two versions of Halvakt
On the Waves of Love
Two people

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Munch wrote ‘madman’ tag on ‘Scream’ painting, museum rules

A mysterious inscription on Edvard Munch's famed painting "The Scream" has baffled the art world for years, but Norwegian experts have now concluded it was written by none other than the artist himself.

Munch wrote 'madman' tag on 'Scream' painting, museum rules
File photo: AFP

Barely visible to the naked eye, the phrase “Can only have been painted by a madman” is written in pencil in Norwegian in the upper left corner of the iconic artwork.

The dark painting from 1893, now a symbol of existential angst, depicts a humanlike figure standing on a bridge, clutching its head in apparent horror against the backdrop of a swirling sky.

The author of the phrase has long been a mystery, with the main theory until now holding that it was a disgruntled viewer who penned it at the beginning of the 20th century on one of the four versions made by Munch.

But, using infrared technology to analyse the handwriting, experts at Norway’s National Museum have now concluded that it was the artist himself. 

“The writing is without a doubt Munch’s own,” museum curator Mai Britt Guleng said in a statement.

“The handwriting itself, as well as events that happened in 1895, when Munch showed the painting in Norway for the first time, all point in the same direction.”

The first showing of the work to the public in Oslo — then known as Kristiania — provoked furious criticism and raised questions about Munch’s mental state, which, according to Guleng, likely prompted Munch to write the inscription on the canvas shortly afterwards.

A pioneer of expressionism, Munch was haunted by the premature deaths of several family members, including his mother and his sister Johanne Sophie, due to illness. In 1908, he was temporarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.

This version of “The Scream” was stolen in 1994, the opening day of the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. It was recovered several months later.

The masterpiece will again go on display when the National Museum reopens in a new building in 2022.

READ ALSO: ‘The Scream’: newly-released Munch originals reveal different look