During the periods that Sean Scully spent in Barcelona after 1992, he made frequent visits to Montserrat in the company of his wife, Liliane Tomasko. He liked to walk the mountain path, following the thread of his life as an Irishman in exile, exploring his roots.

He learned from the press and friends about the cultural activities at the Monastery and its role in social life in Catalonia, as well as its support for the struggle for democracy in difficult times. In the summer of 2005, through his Barcelona dealer, Carles Taché, Scully entered into contact with the Museum of Montserrat, establishing strong links of friendship there. Five years later, the museum director, Father Laplana, baptised Scully and Tomasko’s son, Oisin. As a token of his affection, the artist donated an important painting, entitled The Mountain of Oisin, to the museum.

Sean Scully had the idea of painting the Church of Santa Cecília de Montserrat after his very first visit to the museum. Scully was keen to see the church, and instantly fell in love with it. This was the ideal place to do something similar to what Henri Matisse had done at Vence and, especially, what Mark Rothko (an American painter that Scully loved and admired) had created in his chapel in Houston (Texas). Nevertheless, Santa Cecilia de Montserrat would be imbued with Sean Scully’s own personal style.

Visit to Montserrat, 2014

Video about Sean Scully's visit, June 2014, to the Museum of Montserrat and the restoration works in Santa Cecilia.