“The Scream,” painting by Edvard Munch, is deteriorating because of the moisture in human’s breath, according to a new study.
The painting’s initially bright-yellow strokes have faded to an off-white in the sunset, and in the figure’s neck. There’s a thickly-applied yellow in the lake area that’s flaking away from the canvas, according to The Guardian.
“It turned out that rather than use pure cadmium sulphide as he should have done, apparently he also used a dirty version, a not very clean version that contained chlorides,” Professor Koen Janssens from the University of Antwerp told The Guardian.
“I don’t think it was an intentional use – I think he just bought a not very high level of paint. This is 1910 and at that point the chemical industry producing the chemical pigments is there but it doesn’t mean they have the quality control of today.”
Initially, the team of scientists tested whether or not light may be causing the problem, but that wasn’t it.
It was the humidity produced from visitors’ breathing around the painting.
“When people breathe,” Janssens told The Guardian. “They produce moisture and they exude chlorides so in general with paintings it is not too good to be close too much to the breath of all the passersby.”
The Munch Museum in Oslo is set to move to a new a location later this year, and the museum will be taking these results into account when planning a new display for the painting, according to The Guardian.
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