Sean Scully’s rug design achieves €85,000 at charity sale

Ceadogán rug sale raises €150,000 in total while a seminal four-metre-long work by Edvard Munch comes to market

A rug designed by Irish-born American artist Sean Scully achieved €85,000 at a charity sale conducted by Whyte’s Auctioneers on February 5th. Entitled Fez, and made by Ceadogán Rugmakers, it was one of 12 artist designs that went under the hammer and was originally expected to achieve in the region of €15,000-€20,000.

It sold for multiples over its estimate in the sale, which raised €150,000. Proceeds from the sale are split between homeless charity the Peter McVerry Trust and a regenerative wildlife project, For the Birds, at the site of Ceadogán Studio’s at Bannow Bay in Wexford.

Other sales of note included Dorothy Cross’s glow-in-the-dark rug that achieved €19,000 (€5,000-€12,000); a piece by artist Alice FitzGerald which sold for €9,000 (€2,000-€4,000); while street artist Maser’s work achieved €5,800, against its lower estimate of €4,000.

Meanwhile a painting the length of a carpet – measuring a whopping four metres in width – by Edvard Munch, will be the highlight of Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary sale in London on March 1st.


Entitled Dance on the Beach, the work was originally commissioned by renowned director Max Reinhardt – whose productions were said to have influenced the Norwegian painter – as a frieze for his avant-garde theatre in Berlin.

The seminal four-metre-long work that explores love, life and death on the Oslo fjord, is the only piece of the frieze signed in full, and the only part remaining in private hands. The rest are held in museum collections.

Its journey to the auction house is a circuitous one. When the theatre was refurbished in 1912, the frieze was split up and acquired by historian and curator Professor Curt Glaser, a cultural trailblazer in Berlin and both a friend and biographer of the troubled Scandinavian artist. But due to his Jewish background, Glaser fled from the Nazis and was obliged to sell the work in Oslo, where it was purchased by neighbour and friend of Munch, Thomas Olsen. Olsen subsequently hung the paining in the first-class section of his passenger liner the MS Black Watch, a line that served Oslo to Newcastle until 1939 when Britain declared war on Germany and the ship was laid up in anticipation of German invasion.

Olsen took Dance on the Beach and his other Munch paintings – including The Scream (1895) – to a barn in the Norwegian woods for the duration of the war for safekeeping. This turned out to be a shrewd enough move, as the MS Black Watch was later seized by the German U-Boat squadron.

Expected to fetch €13 million-€24 million, the composition “reimagines one of Munch’s greatest images, the Dance of Life”, which hangs alongside The Scream at Oslo’s National Gallery, and “the work is among the greatest of all Expressionist masterpieces in private hands”, according to Sotheby’s vice chairman of fine arts, Simon Shaw.

Munch’s auction record stands at just short of $120 million, achieved in 2012 at Sotheby’s New York, when Thomas Olsen’s son Peter sold their pastel on board of The Scream (Munch completed four versions) to American financier Leon Black. and

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables