The 1893 “prime version” of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, in the National Museum, Oslo.


OSLO – Ahead of the public viewing of Edvard Munch’s 1895 version of The Scream in our London galleries (we are offering this most iconic of Edvard Munch’s works for sale in New York on 2 May), I have called into the National Museum in Oslo to see their version and look forward to being able to compare it to the one we will be selling.

It's also a chance to ogle all the other Munch masterpieces that hang alongside it in the same room – 17 paintings in all – and consider his influences. I am looking at some of Munch’s very best works: The Sick Child, Puberty, Madonna, Girls on the Pier and Dance of Life, and I have the room to myself, with nobody but for a solitary guard.


So much angst and grief in so much quiet and splendid stillness, Munch’s life and soul fills the room: his expression of the human condition derives in almost equal measure from his use of place and his depiction of people. Landscape is the bedrock of Norwegian painting, and immediately outside the gallery where The Scream hangs is a selection of Munch's immediate artistic elders – Norway's so-called “mood painters.” Virtually devoid of any figures, the effect is a hymn to nature. In the landscapes depicted by Harald Sohlberg, Halfdan Egedius, Eilif Peterssen and Kitty Kielland you hear the rustle of every leaf the snap of every twig. Brilliant essays in contemplation, they are the calm before Munch's storm.