I’m continuing my art thievery theme from the previous post. I’m also changing the locale from Stockholm to Oslo, Norway. And although the below paragraph is from a Wikipedia entry on  Edvard Munch’s The Madonna, it reads like a scene from the movie Mission: Impossible and pivots well into a new storyline.

On Sunday, 22 August 2004, The Madonna and a version of The Scream were stolen from the Munch Museum by masked men wielding firearms. The robbers forced the museum guards [and frightened tourists] to lie down on the floor while they snapped the cable securing the paintings to the wall and escaped in a black Audi A6 station wagon, which police later found abandoned.

The Scream, Edvard Munch (1893) National Gallery, Oslo

The Wikipedia entry for The Scream is more elaborate.  It was stolen twice. Obviously in 2004, and then again 10 years previous on the same day the 1994 Winter Olympics opened in Lillehammer. Four men broke into the National Gallery and stole its version leaving a note saying, “Thanks for the poor security”.

After the gallery refused a ransom demand of $1 million in March 1994, Norwegian police set up a sting operation with assistance from the British Police [covert operations group] and the Getty Museum. The painting was recovered undamaged on May 7, 1994.

Fast forward to Apr. 23, 2007. The Guardian said,  A Norwegian court has sentenced three men to serve between five and nine-and-a-half years in prison for stealing Edvard Munch masterpieces in a spectacular heist in Oslo in 2004.

Oslo police recovered the works in August 2006, but the circumstances of their recovery and whereabouts while stolen remain shrouded in mystery… 

It is as yet unclear whether the men will appeal against the rulings, but today’s decision could now mark the end of an affair that has rocked the art world and Norway, a country where violent crime is less common than in other nations.                                  

……………… Beyond The Madonna*  ……………..

The Madonna was also called Loving Woman by Munch. This indicates that the painting carries both religious and erotic content. The red halo emphasizes the connection with the Madonna. But the figure is also characterized by her abandonment to the sublime moment of love.

“The pause during which the entire world halts in its orbit. Your face embodies all the beauty of the world. Your lips, as crimson as a ripe fruit, are half open as if to express pain. A corpse’s smile. Here life and death shake hands. The chain that links thousands of past generations to the thousands to come has been meshed”
— Edvard Munch

Munch painted five versions of the Madonna between 1894 and 1895

Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska is the model for Munch’s  painting. She was a Norwegian writer and famous for her affairs with various prominent artists. Also, for her dramatic death. Dagny and Munch were lovers.   In 1893, she married the Polish writer Stanisław Przybyszewski. 

*THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED:  I’ve found a much better  link to Przybyszewski that details his literary significance to the international Bohemian artistic community of his time.  

As it turns out, he was also notorious for his many scandalous  liaisons.  He encouraged Dagny’s  affair with Władysław Emeryk, and there is some evidence that Przybyszewski and Emeryk plotted her murder. Emeryk invited Przybyszewski and Dagny on a trip to visit his family in the Caucasus; at the last minute Przybyszewski backed out, saying he would join them later. On 5 June 1901, in a room of the small Grand Hotel in Tbilisi, Emeryk shot Dagny in the head.


Copy for The Madonna from Edvard Munch – The Dance of Life. Its Gallery is a categorical index of Munch’s work.