Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DESMOND MORRIS
Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Dessin à Desmond

Details
Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Dessin à Desmond
signed, dated and inscribed ‘à Desmond Morris en souvenir de cette belle journée Miró.18/ix/64’ (lower right)
felt-tip pen and ball-point pen on the inside front cover of a book
11 3/4 x 16 1/2 in. (29.7 x 41.5 cm.)
Executed on 18 September 1964
Provenance
A gift from the artist to the present owner in 1964.
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.

Brought to you by

Annie Wallington
Annie Wallington

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a photo-certificate from ADOM (Association pour la défense de l'oeuvre de Joan Miró.)

In his own words, Desmond Morris - celebrated zoologist, Surreal artist and writer - describes his meeting with Miró in 1964...

Miró was in London for a giant retrospective at the Tate Gallery, but he set aside a day for a visit to the zoo. I had arranged for him to have a grand tour, based on a request he had made to Roland Penrose that, before looking at the 'Congo paintings' [paintings by Congo, the chimpanzee who had learned how to draw and paint under the guidance of Desmond Morris], he would like to see ‘serpents, small birds and creatures of the night’, which sounded exactly like the title of one of his own, exuberant pictures. He arrived immaculately dressed and looking like diminutive Spanish banker. The tour went well, with Miró taking an almost childlike delight in having a vast python wrapped around his body, and in watching at close quarters as a rattlesnake was made to rattle. Another snake was fed in front of him. As it darted out its neck in a lightning strike at the body of the dead mouse that was offered to it, it came within inches of Miró’s face and he jumped back with a gasp. But looking at his face, I realized that it was not a gasp of horror, but of pleasure at the exquisite grace of the snake’s swift movement. I recalled a comment Victor Pasmore, the British artist, who had once asked Miró the secret of his vibrant calligraphy. ‘Each line,’ Miró had replied ‘must cut like a knife.’ And this somehow explained his admiration for the striking snake, as its body had cut like a knife through the air.

I was careful to select animals that I knew Miró would like, basing my selection on my years of study of his paintings. In the zoo’s Bird House, there was a magnificent tame hornill that he was able to perch on his wrist and feed with a grape. Around the bird’s large eye there was a splash of bright colour, exactly as if it were an eye painted by Miró in one of his pictures. I could not speak Spanish to explain why I had chosen this bird, so I simply pointed at the eye. Miró nodded and understood. Lee Miller, Roland’s wife, took a photograph of Miró with the hornbill, which has been published many times since.

At the end of the day, we walked across to our small flat near the zoo gate, where Ramona made tea for us. Through Roland Penrose, who was acting as interpreter, Miró thanked me for the tour and then began studying the Congo paintings I had arranged in front of him. He was deeply impressed by them and after he had chosen the one he wanted, got up and started searching through the scraps of paper on my desk. I asked Roland what he wanted and was stunned to learn that he was looking for a suitable piece of paper on which to make a drawing for me, in exchange for the Congo...
Eagerly he started to draw and after some minutes a beautiful sketch emerged. He sat back and Ramona poured him another cup of tea. He must have enjoyed it because he then leant forward and proceeded to dedicate the picture to her...

Miró then got up again and taking one of the many books on his paintings that crowded my shelves, he opened it and completed a second drawing in it which he dedicated to me. In the middle of signing it, he went across to one of my own paintings on the wall and peered intently at my signature in the bottom corner of the canvas. When I looked at the finished dedication, I noticed that when writing my name, he had carefully copied the rolling spiral M that I always used when signing my paintings, in place of the sharp, stabbing M with which he signed his own name. Despite the apparent simplicity of much of Miró’s work, nothing, not even a letter in a dedicatory word, is treated casually. Everything is considered with the solemnity a genius child at play.

More from Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper Sale

View All
View All