SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989) Tronc - Homo suberis (Executed in 1956)
Lot 5AR
SALVADOR DALÍ
(1904-1989)
Tronc - Homo suberis
Sold for £47,500 (US$ 63,542) inc. premium

Lot Details
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
Tronc - Homo suberis
signed 'DALI' (lower centre)
gouache, watercolour, brush and India ink, and pen and ink on card
22.2 x 22.8cm (8 3/4 x 9in).
Executed in 1956

Footnotes

  • The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Monsieur Nicolas Descharnes. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Monsieur Robert Descharnes, and is recorded in his archives under number D-3807.

    Provenance
    Private collection, Cadaqués.
    Private collection, Barcelona (acquired from the above circa 2000).

    In 1955 the great surrealist artist Salvador Dalí created six gouaches and poems which were published as a calendar a year later by Oliva de Vilanova. These paintings, each representing two months, illustrate the story of a tree which takes on human form and undergoes a 'cosmic' journey through the changing seasons. In spring the tree figure awakens and begins its journey in full bloom, in August it rides on 'the white horse of summer' before it returns exhausted in the autumn and is reduced to a crippled figure in December, supported by crutches. By January and February the tree is completely barren and devoid of all life.

    Tronc – Homo suberis shows Dalí's portrayal of these latter months, where he illustrates the tree as a leafless trunk placed in a desolate, empty space. The only objects surrounding the tree are two bones lying next to a rock inscribed with the artist's signature, ants crawling on and away from the trunk and three skeletal figures on the horizon. The combination of all this imagery is suggestive of an overall theme of death and decay.

    Dalí held a life-long fear and obsession with death which he time and again expressed through symbolic messages in his paintings. According to Gilles Néret, Dalí's perennial fascination with the subject had its origin in a vivid childhood memory, which left a permanent impression on him: at five years old, Dalí observed a dead animal being eaten by a swarm of ants (G. Néret, Salvador Dalí: 1904-1989, 2015, pp. 72, 73). These creatures consequently became Dalí's preferred symbol of decay, appearing in many of Dalí's masterpieces, such as his celebrated The Persistence of Memory (1931), and the mysterious Face with Ants (circa 1930-35). Furthermore, Dalí once stated that the two instinctual forces that highly influenced his creative output were 'first, the libido or sexual instinct, and second, the fear of death... not a single minute of my life passes' he explained 'without the sublime, Catholic apostolic, Roman spectre of death accompanying even the least of my highly subtle and capricious fantasies' (S. Dalí, quoted in G. Néret, ibid, p. 50).

    Tronc – Homo suberis issues from the mature period of Salvador Dalí's career after he had already emerged as a highly celebrated, yet controversial figure on the international contemporary art scene. Moreover, this work is one of many from Dalí's later years that signified his long and close association with Surrealism. Joining the group in 1929, what had expressly attracted Dalí to the movement were its aims to unlock the great power of the unconscious to realise dream-like compositions. A key theoretical influence on Surrealism was Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory and his book The Interpretation of Dreams, first published in Spain in 1922. Dalí, who as a student had read Freud's work with great enthusiasm, was profoundly influenced by his psychoanalytic ideas and went on to combine Freud's theory with his own 'glorious paranoiac-critical method'. As Dalí explained, by getting himself into a state of swaying between being asleep and awake, he could consciously access his unconscious, a realm filled with his innermost fears, fantasies and anxieties. He would then retain these obscure images, placing them in the strange worlds that he realised in his paintings.

    In the present painting Dalí has yet again masterfully combined images of his idiosyncratic unconscious creating a melancholic scene of deterioration. Even the title, Tronc – Homo suberis, which is French for 'trunk' and Latin for 'sub-human', appears illusive and bewildering. Whether it is the decayed state of the tree, or the unsettling image of the human skull with gaping eye sockets which appears to emerge from this form, Dalí allows the ambiguous nature of his imagery to work with his viewer's imagination and subconscious, provoking a deeply personal response.
Activities
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, cheque with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveller's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
AR Artists Resale Right

Goods subject to Artists Resale Right Additional Premium.

Contacts
  1. India Phillips
    Specialist - Impressionist and Modern Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8328
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
  2. Hannah Foster
    Specialist - Impressionist and Modern Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5814
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
  3. Benedetta Alpini
    Specialist - Impressionist and Modern Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5815
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
Similar Items