Following his return to Europe after years living in exile in America, Max Ernst chose to settle in the small hamlet of Huismes in the Loire Valley, writing shortly after the move: ‘It is beautiful and gentle and calm here’ (Ernst, quoted in W. Spies and J. Drost, eds., Max Ernst: Retrospective, exh. cat., Vienna, 2013, p. 279). It was in this verdant green landscape, surrounded by the idyllic beauty of the French countryside that his paintings reached a new level of harmony and peace, suffused with an almost fairytale atmosphere. Seemingly illuminated from within, Tâches de soleil achieves a depth and complexity of surface that calls to mind, through relentless point and counterpoint, the rhythms of the natural world. Indeed, though created at the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement, this painting remains firmly rooted in nature through the presence of the benign animalistic form at its centre, lending the scene a clearly figurative, if distinctly otherworldly reality.