Salvador Dalí(1904-1989) El torrent de la Jorneta  (Painted in 1923)

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Lot 40* AR
Salvador Dalí
El torrent de la Jorneta
Sold for £ 578,750 (US$ 748,240) inc. premium

Lot Details
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
El torrent de la Jorneta
oil on canvas
120.2 x 100cm (47 5/16 x 39 3/8in).
Painted in 1923


  • Provenance
    Sala Dalmau Collection, Barcelona.
    Rafael Santos Torroella Collection, Barcelona.
    Hans Engelhorn Collection, Palamós, Spain.
    Caroline Wimmer Collection (by descent from the above).
    Private collection, Tenerife (a gift from the above, 1970s).

    Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Salvador Dalí: rétrospective, 1920 - 1980, 18 December 1979 - 14 April 1980, no. 14 (titled 'El rec de la Jorneta').
    Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Dalí joven, 1918 - 1930, 18 October 1994 - 16 January 1995, no. 66 (titled 'El torrente de la Jorneta').
    Tenerife, TEA, Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, on loan, 2010 - 2015, no. DG2010-01.
    Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Picasso, Miró, Dalí. Angry Young Men: the Birth of Modernity, 12 March - 17 July 2011, no. 2.13.

    J. Socias, Gent Nostra: Dalí, no. 17, Barcelona, 1983 (detail illustrated p. 2; titled 'El rec de la Jorneta').
    J. M. Infiesta, Clarà, Dalí, Monturiol, Pla, Vayreda, Barcelona, 1983 (illustrated p. 2).
    M. di Capua, Salvador Dalí. La vita e l'opera, Milan, 2002 (illustrated p. 52).
    Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (eds.), Salvador Dalí, catalogue raisonné of paintings, Vol. I, 1910 to 1930, online catalogue, 2004, no. 117 (illustrated).
    R. Santos Torroella, El Primer Dalí, 1918 - 1929: catálogo razonado, València, 2005, no. 78 (illustrated p. 183; titled 'El rec de la Jorneta').
    R. Descharnes & G. Néret, Salvador Dalí 1904 - 1989. The Paintings, Vol. I, 1904 - 1946, Cologne, 2007, no. 145 (illustrated p. 65).

    Salvador Dalí's early works are among some of the most compelling pictorial experiments one could hope to discover in an artist's formative years. Even as a student, Dalí had an impressive confidence when it came to tackling new ideas and styles. El torrent de la Jorneta is a wonderful example of this clarity of execution, painted as it was when the artist was only 19.

    The year in which Dalí created the work was undoubtedly a turning point in his life as a painter. He had left his beloved home town of Figueres in 1922 to move to Madrid to study at the San Fernando Academy of Painting, Sculpture and the Graphic Arts, where he encountered figures from the avant-garde and read voraciously from cutting edge reviews. There Dalí met the filmmaker Luis Buñuel and the poet and playwright Federico García Lorca: together they were inseparable, and later became known as La Generacion del 27. The trio would go on to become some of the most important, and infamous, figures in Spanish modernist culture. Previous to this move to the capital, Dalí's work had been largely concerned with interpreting the work of the Fauves - Derain, Matisse, Van Dongen - and the Pointilliste masters - Seurat, Signac. The port of Cadaqués features repeatedly throughout the late teens and early 20s, depicted in a gradually shifting style but ever present. Then on Dalí's arrival in Madrid the change in his work is evident. The influence of the international (and specifically Parisian) avant-garde during these first years in Madrid can be seen in the myriad styles the young artist turned his hand to: Picasso's Blue Period is referenced very clearly in Escena familiar (Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí no. 112), the Futurist Severini is a clear influence on Paisatge a Madrid (FGSD no. 108), while Composició cubista, Retrat cubista de Federico García Lorca (FGSD no. 128) from 1923 shows an increasing awareness and use of Analytical Cubism. In terms of subject matter Dalí also turns his attention away from the landscapes of Cadaqués and portraits of his family members, and explores themes more in keeping with what was concerning the Parisian avant-garde.

    Dalí's studies suffered a rather abrupt hiatus when he was thrown out of the Academy for protesting against the appointment of one of his tutors. He was subsequently sent to jail in Catalonia, in the city of Girona, upon his return to the region under suspicion of being a reactionary. Here Dalí was returned once again to the rolling vineyards and rocky coastline of his youth. After a short time in prison, the young artist was released, invigorated and inspired by his return to the Empordà. He began to paint again the olive groves of this fiercly proud and individual region, and began a series of works dedicated to its beautiful landscape, of which El torrent de la Jorneta is part: as Dalí said of this period, 'I was happy, for I had just rediscovered the landscape of the Ampourdan plain' (S. Dalí, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, New York, 1942, p. 98). His return to Figueres after being released from prison marked the beginning of a period of intense painting for Dalí, in which he actively threw off the obvious debt to the Impressionists, Fauves and Pointillists that had characterised his work before 1922.

    The present lot represents perfectly this new phase, in which we see Dalí utilising a restrained colour palette of brown, green, silvery grey and muted pinks. This palette, along with the plasticity of the landscape, betrays his new influence, namely Picasso, Braque and Gris' experiments in Cubism. Dalí was truly immersing himself in Cubism during this time, having familiarised himself with the movement through l'Esprit Nouveau (Le Corbusier and Ozenfant's avant-garde magazine) and Boccioni's Pittura scultura plastica. The pair of paintings that depict El torrent de la Jorneta (the second canvas hangs in the Museo Nacional Centro d'Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid), the stream in the midst of an olive grove on the outskirts of Figueres, both tackle the bucolic scene with a new interest in multiple perspectives, and a strongly constructed plasticity that betrays a debt beyond the Cubists even, looking back to Cézanne. The viewer is drawn into the terraces of the vineyard through the artist's use of a deep, tunnel-like perspective with Dalí showing only a sliver of sea in the upper-left corner. The silver leaves of the ancient olive groves twist inwards, creating a strong centrifugal structure to the work, evoking the winds that blow through the hills and over towards the sea.

    There is at the same time an evident classicism in El torrent de la Jorneta, as Dalí shows the landscape of Figueres as a timeless Arcadia populated by nymph-like women, washing themselves in the shade of the olive trees. The group of figures are most reminiscent of Derain and Matisse's bathers, who had found their own Arcadian paradise along the same coastline, just over the French border near Collioure. This is at once a timeless work, and one full of references to the most advanced of artistic practices. The viewer sees Dalí's confidence of vision, as well as the beginning of that masterful handling of paint that would go on to become his hallmark. Perhaps more than anything else El torrent de la Jorneta stands as an ode to the landscape of his birth, painted by an artist on the brink of great discovery.
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