Nicolas and the late Robert Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Sans titre (Scène méditerranéenne) was executed in 1945 during Dalí’s wartime exile in America. With German armies on the march during the spring of 1940, there was no question that he and his wife Gala had to leave Europe—she was Jewish, and the artist would have had a difficult time surviving under any totalitarian regime. There were other motivations, as Dalí readily admitted: "I needed, in fact, immediately to get away from the blind and tumultuous collective jostlings of history, otherwise the antique and half-divine embryo of my originality would risk suffering injury and dying before birth in the degrading circumstances of a philosophic miscarriage occurring on the very sidewalks of anecdote. Ritual first and foremost! Already I am concerning myself with its future, with the sheets and pillows of its cradle. I had to return to America to make fresh money for Gala, him and myself..." (The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, New York, 1942, p. 390). Dalí would remain in New York for the next eight years, immersing himself in contemporary American culture. He became known to American audiences as Surrealism's impresario and was increasingly viewed as the very personification and embodiment of Surrealism itself.
In a typical Dalinean enigmatic landscape, the present scene is populated with several motifs familiar from the artist’s earlier works. The debt to many of the Dalí's pictures of the 1930s, most notably his iconic 1931 Persistance de la mémoire, is evident in the setting of a cliff-bounded beach, reminiscent of the Ampurdán plain of his native Catalonia, and its trademark compositional structure with a very deep sense of perspective. Mysterious and almost-classically rendered figures, some on horseback and others swaying and blowing trumpets, appear spectral-like next to the highly delineated, large-scale architectural elements and cliffs. The whimsy of the strange juxtapositions of objects and the quirkiness of the perspective combine here to create powerful imagery redolent of so much of Dalí's work.
(fig. 1) The artist in 1939. BARCODE: 28862512 (in sale archive 2014 sale 2844)