Press Release

A Seminal Four-Metre-Long Painting by Edvard Munch Exploring Love, Life & Death on the Oslo Fjord

By Sotheby's
From the Walls of Max Reinhardt’s Avant-Garde Berlin Theatre to a Luxury Cruise Liner & Hidden from the Nazis in a Barn Deep in the Norwegian Forest

“Dance on the Beach” to be Offered at Sotheby’s London in March From the Renowned Olsen Collection As Part of a Restitution Settlement with the Family of Leading Jewish Patron Curt Glaser

Edvard Munch’s singular vision resulted in vivid, psychological artworks as he battled his demons and the eternal pull between life and death on canvas. In 1906, at a turning point in his life, Munch was commissioned to paint what is now known as “The Reinhardt Frieze”, installed on the walls of impresario Max Reinhardt’s avant-garde theatre in Berlin with twelve major canvases – in an immersive installation that was one of the first of its kind, and trailblazed the relationship between performance and art.

At just over four metres wide, Dance on the Beach is the monumental culmination of the series. In the foreground of the canvas are two of the artist’s great loves, affairs with both of whom ended in heartbreak. It is the only example from the Reinhardt series remaining in private hands, with all of the others held in German museum collections.

As part of a tumultuous journey in the lead up to and during the Second World War, the painting was acquired by Thomas Olsen – who assembled an unmatched collection of around thirty works by the artist, including one of four versions of the infamous The Scream. Prior to that, it had belonged to Dr Curt Glaser, a major cultural figure in 1930s Berlin who was forced to flee when the National Socialists came to power. Appearing on the market for the first time in 80 years, Dance on the Beach is being sold subject to an agreement between the two families.

The work will be offered as a highlight of Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Evening Sale in London on 1 March, with an estimate of $15-25 million. Prior to the sale, the painting will go on public view for the first time since 1979, with an exhibition in London (22 February – 1 March), as well as digital installations of this frieze in Hong Kong (5-7 February) and New York (11-15 February).

“Munch was the ultimate rebel, and every brushstroke on this frieze is utterly modern and purely expressive. This composition reimagines one of Munch’s greatest images, the Dance of Life, which was the culmination of the artist’s Frieze of Life and places love at the centre of the artist’s ‘modern life of the soul’. His first version dates from 1899-1900 and hangs alongside the iconic Scream in Oslo’s National Gallery. This work is among the greatest of all Expressionist masterpieces remaining in private hands — its shattering emotional impact remains as powerful today as in 1906.”
Simon Shaw, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman, Fine Arts
“This exceptional painting is made all the more special due to its extraordinary provenance, a history that has unfolded since it was painted 115 years ago. Intertwined in the story of this painting are two families – both leading patrons of Munch. Indeed, so important were the Glasers and the Olsens to Munch, that he painted both Henrietta Olsen and Elsa Glaser (wives of Thomas and Curt). We are proud to play a part in the painting’s next chapter, whilst celebrating the legacy of the patrons who were integral in supporting the vision of such a great artist.”
Lucian Simmons, Vice Chairman and Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Restitution


Press Contact: /

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

More from Sotheby's