How Munch’s friend hid a masterpiece in a Norwegian barn to thwart the Nazis | Edvard Munch

plate by Edvard Munch That was hidden in the hangar next to a copy of YelpIn order to keep it out of the hands of German soldiers, it will be sold at auction and the proceeds divided with the family of the Jewish man who was forced to sell it when fleeing the Nazis.

The huge one dancing on the beach it will be Auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on March 1st and is estimated to bring in between £12m and £20m.

Measuring just over four meters wide, it is a mysterious composition featuring dancing figures and two of the artist’s greatest loves – relationships that ended in tragedy and heartbreak.

It was sold by the family of Thomas Olsen, the Norwegian shipowner and Jar Munch, who died in 1969. He had bought it in Oslo in 1934, just months after Kurt Glaser, a prominent German academic, had been forced to sell it in Berlin.

Both men were close friends with the artist, who painted portraits of their wives, Henriette Olsen and Elsa Glaser.

Now, through Sotheby’s, their descendants have negotiated its prospective sale, correcting at least one mistake by the Nazis who, in the 1930s, listed Munch among the artists Banned as “degenerate”.

Dance on the Beach was painted by Edvard Munch as one of 12 paintings by the stage actor, Max Reinhardt.
Dance on the Beach was painted as one of 12 paintings by theater impresario Max Reinhardt. Photo: Sotheby’s

dancing on the beach It was part of a 12-panel masterpiece commissioned by theater director Max Reinhardt in 1906 for his avant-garde theater in Berlin. Munch designed sets for his feasts from Henrik Ibsen ghosts And This is Gabler And when creating his theater in the round, Reinhardt asked him to paint a frieze surrounding the audience in an upstairs hall, immersing them in what the artist called “pictures of a modern psyche”.

When the theater was renovated in 1912, the frieze was divided and dancing on the beach It was acquired by Glaser, the Berlin State Administrator art The library, which published the first German monograph on Munch, among other scholarly publications, and has amassed a distinguished art collection. Persecuted by the Nazis because of his Jewish background, Glaser lost his job and his apartment was seized. He sold his collection and fled to Switzerland, eventually making his way to America, where he died in 1943.

commented Olsen dancing on the beach in the first class lounge on his passenger liner, the MS Black Watch, which traveled between Oslo and Newcastle over a period of several months in 1939. It was part of his extraordinary collection of about 30 works by Munch. After Britain declared war on Germany, he hid them in a remote barn in the Norwegian woods. Included copy of Yelpwhich Sotheby’s sold on behalf of the Olsen family for $119.9m (£98m) in 2012. Its recent proceeds have supported Reopening of the Munch Museum in OsloOne of the world’s largest institutions dedicated to an individual artist.

Lucien Simons, Sotheby’s Vice President and Head of Worldwide Compensation, told L.L.C observer“This is not only a wonderful painting, which has this amazing history by Max Reinhardt, who was a star in the theatre, but it also has this amazing double history of belonging to these two great patrons of this artist.”

Portrait of Edvard Munch in his studio in Berlin in 1902.
Portrait of Edvard Munch in his studio in Berlin in 1902. Photo: Image 12/UIG/Getty Images

He added, “Glaser and his first wife visited Munch regularly in Oslo, and when Munch visited Berlin in the 1920s, he stayed with the Glazer family. So it wasn’t just a pure caring relationship. Likewise, the Olsens had a house next door to Munch’s. This is an exceptional picture – and it has a tremendous history.”

The numbers in dancing on the beach They are believed to represent innocence, love, life and death, recurring themes for Munch, who faced more than his fair share of tragedy. He lost his mother when he was five and his older sister nine years later – both to tuberculosis – while his older sister spent most of her life in a mental hospital. Munch had a severe breakdown in 1908.

Simon Shaw, vice president of Sotheby’s New York, said: “Alongside the instantly recognizable images of The Scream, the Vampire, Madonna and the Girls on the Bridge, the depiction of figures dancing became a major motif in the artist’s work from the late 1890s onwards.”

dancing on the beach He captures that sense of “life playing out before him.” [Munch’s] Eyes,” he said, incorporating many of the most important elements of his work, as well as the people who plagued the artist’s memory.

In the foreground, the painting is haunted by two of Munch’s greatest lovers – Tola Larsen and Millie Thawlow.

“The former was a turbulent affair that would end in Munch shooting him by the hand in the heat of passion, and the latter was his cousin’s wife, and Munch’s first love,” Shaw said.

dancing on the beach It is likely to arouse worldwide interest because it is the only part of the frieze cycle to remain in private hands. All others are in museums. It will be offered to the public prior to the auction at Sotheby’s in London, from February 22 to March 1.

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