I just finished reading this book, The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick which was recommended by a fellow blogger (Thanks Katie May!). Interesting read about the theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's famous painting, The Scream.
Did you know that:
• The Scream is painted on cardboard with tempera and oil pastel?
• someone (not Munch) wrote on the painting "This must have been painted by a madman"?
• there is candle wax in the bottom right corner where he blew out a candle after working on the painting into the night?
• Munch actually completed 4 Scream paintings?
• The vivid red sky he saw and painted is believed to have been caused by debris from a volcanic eruption in Krakatoa in 1883?
This fragile painting, even though it was removed from it's frame, was recovered without damage by the undercover detective Charley Hill. Hill is from England, yet he was posing as an American from the Getty museum and it was funny to read about what he needed to do and say to make himself believable. A few interesting trivial tidbits: Did you know that the word "horseshit" is apparently only used by Americans? And that Americans switch the fork to our right hand only after cutting our meat? As a lefty-I was surprised by this because I cut and eat with the fork in my left hand.
The book weaves in many other art theft and undercover operations of Hill's as it develops the story of the recovery of The Scream stolen from a museum in Oslo the day that the winter Olympics started. Two men simply put a construction ladder up to the window on the second floor, took the painting, and vanished. Hill has also been working on the recovering the paintings that were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum which has remained unsolved since 1990. Hope he can crack it someday!