The Scream was first exhibited in 1895 in Norway, and was controversial to say the least. The painting was inspired by a vision Munch had as a young man, while walking with friends, where he recalled the "air turned to blood" and he heard "a huge endless scream course through nature".
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the artwork and its bizarre back story led to many questioning Munch's sanity. Experts long believed that the tiny scribbled text on the top left corner of the canvas, which reads "Could only have been painted by a madman!" in Norwegian, was graffiti done by an irate art enthusiast at the time of its exhibition.
However new research conducted by the National Museum of Norway suggests that it wasn't the work of a critic, but of Edvard Munch himself.
Infrared light used in a recent restoration project made the handwriting easier to identify, with Lasse Jacobsen, a research librarian at the Munch Museum in Oslo, telling the New York Times that some quirks in the handwriting indicate it's likely Munch's.
“There are some letters in his handwriting that are really distinct, like the N, or the D, which turns up at the end. So when I saw it there I thought, ‘This is Munch.’”
Mai Britt Guleng, a curator at the National Museum of Norway, also told the New York Times that they feel the size of the writing suggests it was Munch's handiwork, not a vandal. “He didn’t write it in big letters for everyone to see. You really have to look hard to see it. Had it been an act of vandalism, it would have been larger.”
As someone who didn't even know about the scribble, this is a wild new mystery that is also (possibly) now solved. What a ride, huh?