Munch spent much of his life working in and around the city of Oslo, where much of his work remains today. In fact, the city can be seen in many of his paintings. Think that picture above looks familiar? You’re not alone. Historians think that that very spot in Norway’s Eckberg Heights may have inspired Munch to paint The Scream. While the painting’s setting is familiar, its tone is otherworldly. What could have caused Munch to paint such a violent sky?
Even the experts disagree. Scientists note that the violent 1883 eruption of Krakatoa may have caused atmospheric changes around the world, including a red-tinged sky like that seen in the painting. There’s also another, more sinister explanation. The Ekeberg Heights neighborhood where Munch heard the “scream of nature” was nearby the place where the artists’s sister was institutionalized, suffering from severe mental illness. The area was also filled with the sounds of stenches from a nearby slaughterhouse. Sounds like enough to cause sinister visions to us.
To learn more about Munch, and to see Oslo through his eyes, pick up a copy of Art+Travel Europe, in stores this March.
Eckberg Heights photo © Akira Chiba