“Green is a nice color..:” Marianne Richter for Wahlbecks, Part 2

Marianne Richter was one of the most prolific rug and tapestry designers of mid-century Sweden. This post is the second in a series exploring the rya rugs she designed for the manufacturing company AB Wahlbecks in Linköping in Östergötland over a 17-year period. The rug line was called “Östergyllan,” or Eastern Gold, recalling with the name of each rug, a facet of the heritage of Östergötland.

It is clear that this very talented mid-century designer devoted considerable effort to designing these rugs for Wahlbecks. They were bought and enjoyed by a wide range of consumers in the 1950s and 60s, and continue to offer both good value and considerable design impact today.  Although they are not of the same quality as  the hand-woven rugs which Richter designed at the same time, the Wahlbecks rya rugs are cheerful and sturdy and offer rug enthusiasts a lot of design quality for their price—- and sometimes they can be found as tag sale items rather than for sale at more serious antique auctions!

I have classified these rugs into five series (within the overall Östergyllan series) based on the kind of label they carried as well as their evident stylistic qualities. Part 1 of this blog post looked at Series 1 and 2 approximately covering the years 1955-62.  The three series which follow cover the period 1963-72. The very last series of Wahlbecks Östergyllan seems to have had not nearly as many rugs as the previous ones— or perhaps the character of the rugs changed during these years as other designers were invited to contribute to the line. In any case, Richter seems to have worked on several other lines as well as the Östergyllan line during this period— producing what seem to me to be designs generally inferior to those of her Östergyllan work. There are a few exceptions to this, which I’ll look at below.


Series 3.  Swedish flag placed high on label                               Assumed period, 1963-66

Övralid is the name of the simple house of Swedish writer, Verner von Heidenstam, on Lake Vattern. Writer of both poetry and prose, and 1916 Nobel Prize winner, von Heidenstam, was opposed to naturalism in literature and advocated instead for a return to beauty, fantasy and national romantic themes. The rather fantastic forms of this design seem to suit von Heidenstam’s aesthetic concerns.

43. "Övralid" ur östergyllenserien, Marianne Richter. Ca 235 X 165 cm. Buk 3-27-13
Övralid green, from Östergyllan line, 235 x 165; sold Bukowskis 3/27/13.


44 "Ovralid", 226 x 165 cm, Garpenhus Auktioner 11-16-16

45."Ovralid" Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 3.30.55 PM
Detail, Övralid green, 235 x 165; sold Bukowskis 3/27/13.
46. "Ovralid"Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 12.30.05 AM
Label, Övralid green; sold Bukowskis 3/27/13. Note new series label design


47. "Ovralid" detail
Detail, Övralid black, sold by Garpenhus Auktioner, 11/16/16 via auctionet. com
48 "Ovralid" 190 x 136 Halmstads Auktionskammare 3 1 17
Övralid orange, from Östergyllan series, 190 x 136; sold Halmstads Auktionskammare, 3/1/17

Rosenkälla, seems also to have been in the third series; Bukowskis identifies this as having been designed in 1964. I have  identified this pattern in two colors shown below. The name pattern refers to the source of water from which Nyköping originally drew its water.

Marianne RichterA CARPET, "Rosenkälla", machine woven, designed by Marianne Richter, around 192 x 140 cm. Designed in 1964 Bukov 6:26:18
Rosenkalla rya in blue by Marianne Richter for Wahlbecks, 192 x 140 cm. Sold Bukowskis 6/26/18 and identified as designed in 1964.
Rosenkalla Marianne Richter 190 x140 cm from etsy shop DanelawVintage
Rosenkalla rya by Marianne Richter for Wahlbecks 190 x 140. For sale by Danelaw Vintage on Etsy

Söderö is named after a early 19th c wooden manor house built at the southern end of Lake Ämmern on property mentioned in local records as early as 1415. What the significance the house or property has beyond this, I don’t know. Can one of my Swedish readers provide further information? The pattern of this rug is remarkably close to that of Klockricke in Series 1, but the center oval sections in that one are consistently white-ish where this pattern has more shades of the rug’s color.

49 "Söderö", ca 194 x 138 cm. KolonnAuctionhuset Stockholm10-1-12
Söderö yellow, from Östergyllan line, 194 x 138 cm; sold Kolonn Auktionhuset, Stockholm, 10/1/12 via auctionet.com
50 "Södero "small Sodero
Label of Söderö; sold Kolonn Auktionhuset, Stockholm, 10/1/12 via auctionet.com An inspection of this tag on my computer at high resolution confirms a very faint trace of the word Söderö.

Västenvind This is a pattern for which the name seems so generic (“West wind”), that I have no further information. Is this the prevailing wind direction in Östergötland? That’s my best guess. What is most apparent about the pattern is that each of the colors of this rug have a kind of mid-60s intensity, yet manage to be rather subtle. The rug seems to evoke the feeling of rippling water or grass as wind blows over it.

52 "Västenvind" MR 190x130 cm.unident Buk 9-21-16
Västenvind blue, from Östergyllan line, 190x 130 cm; sold Bukowskis 9/21/16.
53"Västanvind" Maskinvävd rya, . Marianne Richter för Wahlbecks i Linköping. Ur Östergyllen-serien. Ca 190 x 130 cm. Buk 4 23 15
Västenvind orange, from Östergyllan line, 190 x 130, sold Bukowskis 4/23/15.
Label of Västenvind orange; sold Bukowskis 4/23/15.

The following rug carries a label from this series but the name of the rug is unreadable.

Unnamed This rug sold by a Lindköping auction house has elements of similar to those of the Sturefors and Ulvåsa rugs, but it carries a label from Series 3. If readers can identify this rug, please let me know!

55 UNKNOWN maskingjord rya, Marianne Richter, Unnamed Östergyllen, ca. 196x140 cm.Gober &Anderson Linkoping 3:8:18
Unknown rya rug from Östergyllan line, 196 x 140 cm; sold by Gobér & Anderson, Linköping, via auctionet.com.
56 Orangy Brown Linkoping 3 18
Detail, Unknown rug from Östergyllan line; sold by Gobér & Anderson, Linköping, via auctionet.com.
57. Unnamed orangy brown linkoping 4 8 18
Label, Unnamed rya rug from Östergyllan line; sold by Gobér & Anderson, Linköping, via auctionet.com.

And the following rug is identified by name, and seems to come from this period, but it carries no label.

Trollskog means enchanted forest, and the image seems to reflect that.

58 "Trollskog", Marianne Richter, AB Wahlbecks fabriker, 1960 70-tal. Formgiven omkring 1969.. Ca 193x139 cm.Buk 3 18 15
Trollskog gold from Östergyllan line, 193 x 139 cm; sold Bukowskis 3/18/15.

A second rug in the same pattern, and in black and white, is is a another example of Trollskog, and I have seen a third red version called Trollskog in the sales listing, but without a label.

59 "Trollskog"? 195 X 135 FOR SALE WWW. POMONO.CH Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 7.41.03 PM
Trollskog, gray, from Östergyllan series, 195 x 135, on sale by http://www.pomono.ch.

But to confuse this identification, there is another rug also identified as Trollskog, but an entirely different pattern. Identified when sold as part of the Ostergyllan series, the following pattern is still looking for a name— and a label style would help too:

60"Trollskog" MR 155 x100 Stock Auk2 29 16
So-called Trollskog blue, from Östergyllan series, 155 x100 cm; sold Stockholms Auktionsverket, 2/29/16.


Series 4.  Swedish flag placed low on larger label                     Assumed period, 1966-69

Stångebro commemorates the battlefield on a plain outside Linköping where a six year alliance between Sweden and the Polanish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was ended in 1598, effectively ending the Catholic interests in Lutheran Sweden. Perhaps the shapes which I read as trees are opposing battlefield lines —although this is likely a too-literal interpretation of the pattern!

61."Stängebro" 232 x165 cm Helsingborgs Auktiosns kamm 11-9-2015
Stångebro green, from Östergyllan line, 232 x 165 cm; sold Helsingborgs Auktionskammare 11/9/15.
62."Stångebro",RYAMATTA,232 x165 Östergyllen-serien Marianne Richter. Garpenhus Auktioner 11:19:16
Stångebro orange, from Östergyllan series, 232 x 165 cmc sold Garpenhus Auctioner in Malmö 11/19/16 via auctionet.com.
63"Stangebro" label
Label, Stångebro green, sold Helsingborgs Auktionskammare,
64 "Stangebro" detail
Detail, Stångebro orange, from Östergyllan line, sold Garpenhus Auctioner in Malmö, 11/19/16 via auctionet.com.

Glan is named for a large lake in Östergötland, near Norrköping which provides the city of Norrköpings with its water.

Although nominally a rya, this handsome rug is unusual in the shorter length of its pile. Its composition also offers a certain parallel to Marianne Richter’s 1963 flat weave compositions for MMF called “Fasad.” The parallel is not even so much the use of different tonal blocks of a single color, but in Richter’s use of different weave structures (in the case of the Fasad rugs) and simple delicate patterns overlaying color (in the Glan design) to animate and vary each of the color blocks.

65"Glan bla"MR Glan 5 ft. 4 in.Wx7 ft. 5 in.L 163 cmWx226 cmL sold first dibs as handknotted rug
Marianne Richter Glan blue rya, from Östergyllan line, 226 x 163 cm; sold first dibs by New York dealer, date unknown.
66"Glan" MR Östergyllen, ca 278 x 195 cm. Auktionhuset Kolonn Stock 3-12-17 7000 SEK
Marianne Richter Glan green rya, from Östergyllan line, 278 x 195cm; sold Auktionhuset Kolonn, Stockholm, 3/12/17.
67 "Glan green" MR
Detail Marianne Richter Glan green rya, from Östergyllan line, sold Auktionhuset Kolonn, Stockholm, 3/12/17.
68 "Glan" tag
Label for Glan green rya, from Östergyllan line, sold Auktionhuset Kolonn, Stockholm, 3/12/17. Note new expanded label style.

Bjälbo takes its name from the family seat of an Ostragothian family that produced, according to Wikipedia ,“several medieval Swedish bishops, jarls and kings. It also provided three kings of Norway, and one king of Denmark in the 14th century.” The village had a church and manor house, of which only the church tower remains.

70"Bjälbo", Marianne Richter, AB Wahlbecks fabriker, 1960 70-tal. Ca 196x140 cm. Geometrisk dekor i gröna och bruna nyanser. Formgiven omkring 1969. Etikettmärkt. Buk 3-17-15
Marianne Richter, Bjälbo green rya , from Östergyllan line, 196 x 140 cm; sold Bukowskis 3/17/15.
71"Bjälbo", Marianne Richter, AB Wahlbecks fabriker, 1900-talets andra hälft. 200 x 140. Buk 4 28 12
Marianne Richter, Bjälbo orange rya from Östergyllan line, 200 x 140 cm; sold Bukowskis 4/28/12/

72 "Bjälbo" tag

Sörby, formerly called “Söderby,” a village on island of Öland (which means island in Swedish), was part of the Linköping diocesan land in the 16th-century. I have only seen one color of this design and the very loose pattern seems to be moving into the 1970s. This is the smallest size of the rugs I have seen.

73"Sörby", Öster Gyllen Rya, Linköping. 120 x 70 cm. Stadsauktion Sundsvall via auctinoet5-30-16
Marianne Richter, Sörby yellow rya from Östergyllan line, 120 x 170 cm; sold Bukowskis 4/28/12
74."Sörby" Sundsvall
Label for Sörby yellow rya from Östergyllan line; sold Bukowskis 4/28/12/


Series 5.  Flag becomes sail of Viking ship                            Assumed period 1970-72

I have found only one Marianne Richter rya in the Östergyllan series with this particular label, although there may be more out there.

Blomstergård means flower farm. The colors of this rug are much lighter in their overall tone and have a busier, more pop-art feel. While the borders feel like earlier Marianne Richer patterns, she has abandoned her typically orderly pattern-making in favor of a bouquet in the center.

75 "Blomstergård", a machine woven knotted pile (rya), Marianne Richter, ca 195 x 140 cm. From the "Östergyllen"-collection.Buk 8 3 17
Marianne Richter, Blomstergård green rya from Östergyllan line 195 x 140vm, sold Bukowskis 8/3/17.
78 "Blomstergård blå 230 x 167 Auktionhuset Gober& Andersson 8 31 16
Marianne Richter, Blomstergård blue rya from Östergyllan line 230 x 167vm, sold Gomer & Andersson, Linköping, 8/31(16
76"Blomstergård "Rya, Marianne Richter, Östergyllen. Ca 194 x 136 cm.Buk 11 23 15
Marianne Richter, Blomstergård orange rya from Östergyllan line, 195 x 140vm, sold Bukowskis 8/3/17.


77"Blomstergård "Buk 11 23 15
Label of Marianne Richter, Blomstergård orange rya from Östergyllan line; sold Bukowskis 8/3/17.


During this period Wahlbecks apparently introduced several other rug lines ,with more abstract names . These all carried this same label with the flag as Viking sail, but they were not labeled as “Ostergyllan” but with the names of other lines— Melodi and Skania to name two. Marianne Richter seems to have designed at least a number of rugs for these lines as did other contemporary designers, Astrid Sampe, among them.

In the Melodi line:

–Vättern pattern

78"Vättern", Marianne Richter, 235 x 165 cm.Nyköpings Auktionsverk 11-2-15
Marianne Richter, Vättern red rya from Melodi line, 265 x 165 cm, sold Nyköpings Auktionsverk 11/2/15
80 "Vattern" tag
Label, Vättern red rya, from Melodi line sold Nyköpings Auktionsverk 11/2/15
79 "Vättern"Rya, 1900-talets andra hälft. Ca 190 X 136 cm. Buk 7-17-2013
Marianne Richter, Vättern yellow rya, from Melodi line, 190 x 135 cm, sold Bukowskis 7/12/13.

–Kaskad pattern

81"Kaskad", Marianne Richter, Wahlbecks Rya, 165x235 cm. Goteborgs Auktionsverk 4-19-17
Marianne Richter, Kaskad green rya from Melodi line, 235 x 165 cm, sold Göteborgs Auktionsverk, 4/19/17
82"Kaskad" tag
Label, Kaskad green rya from Melodi line, sold Göteborgs Auktionsverk, 4/19/17

–Näkros (Waterlily) pattern

83 Astrid Sampe Melodi series from Wahlbecks 200 x 137 cm. 8::8:14Buk
Astrid Sampe, Näkros rya from Melodi line, 200 x 137 cm; sold Bukowskis 8/8/14
84 Astrid Sampe Näkros priced 359 SEK ca 1972+3
Label, Näkros rya from Melodi line; sold Bukowskis 8/8/14

In Wahlbeck’s Scandia line:

–Idun pattern

85 "Green Swirl" Rya, Marianne RichterWalhbacks but not Ostergyllan . Ca 195 x 139 Buk 5:23:15 cm.
Marianne Richter, Idun green rya from Scandia line, 195 x 139 cm; sold Bukowskis 5/23/15/
86 "Green swirl" not Ostergy Buk 5 23 15
Label, Idun green rya from Scandia line; sold Bukowskis 5/23/15

Several other Wahlbecks rya rugs have been attributed to Marianne Richter when sold at auction in Sweden. These may be unidentified rya from the Ostergyllan line, or more likely, they are from one of these other series. Hopefully rugs with labels will surface that will allow these rugs to be identified.


87"Eldfågel", Marianne Richter, ca. 235x170 cm.Auktionhuset Linkopeing 11-27-16
Marianne Richter, Elderfågel red rya (“Firebird”) in unknown Wahlbacks line, 235 x 170 cm, sold Auktionhuset Linking 11/27/16. Label unreadable.

The following two rya rugs have been attributed to Marianne Richter, and although they seem to have much of her refined sense of color and pattern, they need further identification and verification:

93 Prob MR A machine made pile carpet, ca 187 x 135 cm, possibly designed by Marianne Richter. Buk 2 12 17
Probable Marianne Richer, machine-made yellow rya 187 x135, sold Bukowskis 2/12/17
94 rya 195 x 140 Garpenhus Auktioners Malmo7:17:14
Probable Marianne Richer, machine-made black and brown rya 195 x 140, sold Garpenhus Auctioners, Malmo, 7/17/14

The following rug, in both style and name, fits the profile of these later series rugs, but it is much more sophisticated in design. This one has a name, Sommerhage (Summer meadow), but there is no label and the series is unknown. Interestingly, however, it shares much stylistically with one of Marianne Richter’s flat weave rugs designed for Märta Måås Fjetterstöm in 1968 called Sargasso green, although the techniques used to produce these two rugs are so different, and weaving the flat weave rug so much more labor-intensive.

89 "Sommarhage", Marianne Richter. Wahlbecks Fabriker, Linköping. Ca 200 x137 cm. Mönster i övervägande gröna nyanser. Etikettmärkt.Buk 11 1714
Marianne Richter, Sommerhage green rya rug for unknown Wahlbecks line, 200 x 137 cm, sold Bukowskis 11/17/14
90 "Sommarhage" Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 4.26.12 PM
Detail, Sommerhage green rya rug for unknown Wahlbecks line; sold Bukowskis 11/17/14.
91.MR Sargassi grön 1968 335.5 x235.5 or 132x92.7 in Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 6.34.29 PM
Marianne Richter, for Märta Måås Fjetterstöm, Sargasso green flat weave rug (rölakan), 1968, 335.5 x 235.5 cm, seller unknown.
92. Sargasso Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 6.39.49 PM
Detail, Marianne Richter, for Märta Måås Fjetterstöm, Sargasso green flat weave rug (rölakan), 1968.

The last two rugs offer a kind of “full-circle” coda to this exploration of Marianne Richter’s Östergyllan (and other) rya rugs for Wahlbecks. Probably from this same period, these were designed by Richter’s daughter, Sara, a talented weaver who wove many of her mother’s hand-woven designs. They are the same abstract, expressive and colorful pattern and would have been designed before Sara was 25 since she was that age when Wahlbecks sold their operation.  Whether Sara designed other ryor for Walbecks is an open question. But one has to think that Marianne Richter would have been very proud of her daughter and a bit amused to share this particular client with her, one for whom she herself had started working when Sara was still an infant.

,95 "Dovre", Sara Richter, Wahlbecks Linköping. Ca 232 x 154 cm.Buk 4 10 16
Sara Richter, Dovre green rya for unknown Wahlbecks line, 232 x154 cm, sold Bukowskis 4/10/14.
96 Sara Richter for Wahlb unattrib 195 x 137 cm. Buk 3 3 13
Sara Richter, Dovre orange rya for unknown Wahlbecks line, 195 x 137 cm; sold Bukowskis 3/13/13





auctionet.com for access to Auktionshuset Kolonn, Stockholm; Auktionhuset Linköping; Auktionsverket Norrköping; Garpenhus Auctioner, Malmö; Gobér & Andersson, Linköping; Göteborgs Auktionsverk; Halmstads Auktionskammare; Helsingborgs Auktionskammare; Nyköpings Auktionsverk.

Bukowskis auction house, Stockholm, online archives


Danelaw Vintage etsy store


Click to access Nya_Wahlbecks_eng.pdf

Från fiber till tågvirke. En varuhandbok från Wahlbecks; AB Wahlbecks fabriker; Förlag Wahlbecks Linköping,1953



Göta Elisabeth Trägårdh, http://www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/GotaTragardh, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Anna Lindqvist), retrieved 2018-03-24.

Kulturarv Östergötland at Östergötlands museum

Lindvall-Nordin, Christina, “Textilkonstens Nestor,” Sydsvenskan 25 Jan, 2011. Obituary.


Marianne Elisabet Richter, http://www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/MarianneRichter, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Christina Lindvall-Nordin), retrieved 2018-03-22.

Stockholms Auktionsverket

Wallenquist, Inga, ““Ryamattans revansch på länsmuseet,” in corren.se, 3/26/2007. Photo shown above from this article was uncredited.



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