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What are those obscure clouds in The Scream painting?

Edvard Munch first to depict nacreous clouds

The photo of iridescent nacreous clouds are strikingly similar to the sky in Munch's The Scream, likely marking the first graphical depiction of such rare clouds at the time.
The photo of iridescent nacreous clouds are strikingly similar to the sky in Munch's The Scream, likely marking the first graphical depiction of such rare clouds at the time.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The vivid colors of unique swirls in the sky makes Edvard Munch’s The Scream one of the most famous paintings of all time. 

And lending to mystery, beyond the horrified face screaming alone on a dock, are the floating clouds depicted above the Norwegian fiord.

Now meteorologists suggest rare nacreous clouds provided the inspiration for the sky.

This would make the 1893 painting the first graphical depiction of a type of cloud largely unknown at the time.

Nacreous clouds are so rare they typically only occur above polar areas in the stratosphere.

Here, extreme cold, below −108 °F creates ice particles from little moisture available at these high altitudes.

The ice crystals cause an iridescent mother-of-pearl color that blazes unbelievably bright a couple hours after sunset or before due to altitude.

The artist captures a screaming sky where the person puts hands over their ears to block out the scream of nature.

At the time of the painting, Krakatoa, the most destructive volcano in history erupted killing over 36,000 people in Indonesia.

Some speculate the painting captured vibrant red sunsets created from volcanic aerosols in the atmosphere that scatter reddened light when the sun angle hangs low in the sky. 

But in a study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, meteorologists used color and pattern analysis to rule out Krakatoa's role proposing the artist’s colorful wavy sky could in part have been the influence of nacreous clouds.

 

 

 


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