SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
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SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)

Portrait de Macbeth de dos reproduit acte V, scène III

SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
Portrait de Macbeth de dos reproduit acte V, scène III
signed with monogram 'Gala Dalí' (lower right)
pen and India ink on card
12 x 8 1⁄4 in. (30.1 x 21 cm.)
Executed in 1946
Private collection, France.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
W. Gibbs, 'Salvador Dalí Interprets Macbeth', in The New York Times, 15 December 1946, p. 6 (illustrated).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
The late Robert Descharnes confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

In 1940, in France and witnessing the German invasion, war became ever present in the mind of Salvador Dalí. Escaping to Portugal, then sailing to New York, Dalí and his wife Gala spent the war years in the United States. A series of important paintings were produced during this time, including The Face of War, 1940 (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam), and, following the atomic explosion of the 6 August 1945 - which, in his own words, ‘shook me seismically’ (Salvador Dalí quoted in Robert Descharnes & Giles Néret, Dalí 1904-1989, Cologne, 1994, p. 407) - a succession of Atomic themed works. Not only was the artist preoccupied with the current state of the world, but he began to look back on other sagas of battle, this resulting in his 1946 publication of Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s cursed play, within which Dalí produced a selection of drawings to illustrate its key acts.

Dalí once remarked ‘At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since’. Macbeth tells the story of an equally ambitious Scot who rises as a warrior, murders the King to seize his throne and becomes a tyrant, haunted by his own deeds and gripped by paranoia. The play ends when the son of the King returns and Macbeth is slain by the husband and father of his victims.
On the 15th December 1946 The New York Times announced the release of the book, with a major feature by art critic Wolcott Gibbs. Upon his review, Gibbs noted that the works not only illustrated the acts but suggested that they were an insight into a ‘rather darker story’ – the psyche of Salvador Dalí himself. To demonstrate this, the Times reproduced Portrait of Macbeth, 1946, the most detailed of all the drawings, which Gibbs urged to be investigated with an open mind.
Portrait of Macbeth accompanies Act V, Scene 4, in which Macbeth learns of the 10,000 English soldiers marching upon him, and he is forced to consider his impending death. The drawing portrays Macbeth alive with his crown, looking upon a living corpse, and with its exquisite details, it reveals the meticulous creative process of the artist, influenced by Leonardo da Vinci and other Masters of the 15th Century, whose draughtsmanship and genius he so admired.

Dalí had risen to fame during the 1930s, making the front cover of Time magazine already at 32, as the key figure within the surrealist art movement, but when arriving in the US, the artist announced, in a 1941 exhibition, the death of surrealism. Regardless of his break with the surrealists, Portrait of Macbeth, a very fine example of Dalí the draughtsmen, is both gruesome and surrealist at the same time.
After its release, Dali’s Macbeth saw great commercial success, with the artist still being interviewed about the book on the BBC radio in 1963, however, the fate of the original drawing of Portrait of Macbeth was unknown until its recent rediscovery, within a private French collection.

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