Robert and Nicolas Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this work.
The most striking feature, and the real nexus, of this 1975 work, a preliminary composition for one part of the lithography suite Imaginations and objects of the future, is the picture of a lion's head on a rock below the seat of the armchair. The symbol is extracted, or rather reprised, from a seminal picture of 1929, Accommodations of Desire (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), a work painted, with elements of collage, for Dalí's first solo exhibition at Galerie Goemans in Paris. It was a work that displayed his virtuosity in working in miniature detail and would subsequently go on to be acquired by André Breton.
The symbol of the lion's head is as deeply rooted in Dalí's own psychosis as it is in his own artistic past. The artist himself had described Accommodations of Desire as a 'painting in which desires were always represented by the terrorizing images of lions' heads' (in S. Dalí, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, trans. H. M. Chevalier, London, 1961, p. 242). The symbol is used and reworked repeatedly in other canvases from 1929-31, morphing on occasion into a Medusa-like head, and acquiring new and contested meaning in the process. But its particular appearance here refers pointedly to its presence in Accommodations of Desire and thus draws the viewer irresistibly back to the meaning and value of this earlier work, which had been executed at a pivotal moment in Dalí's life. Suffering from sexual anxiety, a fear of women and an inability to communicate, Accommodations of Desire, together with other works from the period, acted as a vehicle to expel his demons and would bear witness to the release from his neuroses through his relationship with Gala. The significance of the symbol and the meaning with which it is invested are utterly central to the present lot, lifting, as it does, the veil not only on the path of Dalí's artistic development but also on key moments in his personal and private life.
So, while the title of the suite to which the work belongs proposes 'objects of the future', this work also reveals itself as a re-visioning of neuroses of the past and, in the lion's head's new context, is an acknowledgment perhaps that Dalí's speculative imagination, spawning the breathing armchair, is driven and controlled by his past anxieties, or certainly unavoidably connected to them. The manner in which the symbolic head lurks beneath the seat, positioned as an unseen and threatening presence to the imagined chair, might be to Dalí's fantasy and psychosis, it is within the realm of the imagination that it can continue to exist, for Dalí himself admitted that Surrealist objects are sustained by thought, not by the possibility of their practical application, 'The Surrealist object is made only for honour, and it exists only for the honour of thought' (S. Dalí, Oui, Paris, 2004, p. 85).