Rapide annotation of a dream energetically demonstrates Dalí's great facility as a draughtsman. Rapidly and vigorously executed in pen and black ink, a traditional medium, it shows several imaginary scenes arranged in a rocky mountain desert. Though entirely Dalinian in character, these scenes are equally reminiscent of familiar mythological or biblical imagery. The couple embracing in the forefront instantly recalls Adam and Eve, while the two scenes beyond evoke the story of St. George liberating the princess and slaying the dragon.
The drawing served as s design for an illustration in Dalí's book 50 secrets of magic craftsmanship, written in 1947. At the time, Dali had been living in America for seven years, enjoying both commercial and critical success. He had a solo exhibition at the Society of the Four Arts Galleries, Palm Beach, a painting retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and a show at the Bignou Gallery, New York. The 50 secrets of magic craftsmanship, a treaty on the art of painting in the Renaissance tradition, reveals the artist's technical tricks, discipline, and philosophy. (Perhaps not without irony), Dalí was full of praise for his own work: 'Reading it, I really learnt to paint almost as well as Zurbarán'. Robert Descharnes considers the publication 'a veritable milestone in the life of the artist, it demands careful explication for a better comprehension of his attitude towards his paintings...' (R. Descharnes, Dalí, p. 407).
As indicated by Dali's inscription at the bottom, he made the drawing just after waking up, and he used it for this third 'secret' in the book: 'in undertaking an important work which you are anxious to bring to a successful completion and on which your heart is particularly set, you must before anything else beging it by sleeping as deeply, as soundly as it is possible for your to do. [...] you will secretly, in the very depths of your spirit, solve most of its subtle and complicated technical problems, which in your state of waking consciousness you would never be humanly capable of solving.' (S. Dalí, 50 secrets of magic craftsmanship, New York, 1974, p. 33).
(fig. 1) Gala and Salvador Dalí at the St. Regis Hotel in New York during the time when the painter was writing Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship. © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, DACS, London 2008.