|The Scream became an iconic work of art, famous across the world
|1994: Art thieves snatch Scream
Thieves have stolen one of the world's best-known paintings from a gallery in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
Two men took just 50 seconds to climb a ladder, smash through a window of the National Art Museum in Oslo and cut The Scream, by Edvard Munch, from the wall with wire cutters.
The cutters were left behind along with a short ladder as the men fled with the painting. The entire incident was filmed by security cameras.
The director of the museum, Knut Berg, said, "It is impossible to estimate the value of the painting.
"But it is Norway's most valuable, Munch's most renowned, and it would be impossible to sell."
The museum's alarm went off at 0630 local time (0530 GMT) and a security guard immediately alerted police, who arrived within minutes.
Police officers are searching for a Mercedes car thought to have been used as a getaway vehicle.
The painting was in the gallery as the highlight of a Norwegian Culture Festival staged in connection with the Winter Olympics which start today in Lillehammer.
There is widespread speculation that the theft may have some connection with the Games, possibly as a publicity stunt by campaigners. Art experts believe the painting is so well-known that it is unsaleable.
The museum is facing strong criticism over its security after it was revealed that the masterpiece had been moved from the more secure first floor to the ground floor for the exhibition. It is believed to have been uninsured.
The stolen painting is regarded as the most important of the four versions Edvard Munch painted of The Scream, and was created in 1893 as part of his Frieze of Life series in which sickness, death, anxiety and love are central themes.
The haunting depiction of a skull-like face wide-mouthed in agony and despair before a blood-red sunset has become an icon of human anguish across the world.
Several other Munch paintings have recently been stolen: six years ago, another well-known masterpiece, The Vampire, was stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo, but was later recovered, as was alithograph, Madonna, which disappeared in 1990.
Another painting, Portrait Study, was taken from the National Art Museum last August and is still missing.