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Salvador Dalí (1891-1976)

Design for the set of "Romeo and Juliet" - Backdrops and wing flats

Salvador Dalí (1891-1976)
Design for the set of "Romeo and Juliet" - Backdrops and wing flats
signed and dated 'Gala Salvador Dalí' (lower right); signed again 'Dalí' (lower centre)
oil on canvas
9¼ x 18¼ in. (23.5 x 46.3 cm.)
Painted in 1942
Paul Hein, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1983.
R. Descharnes & G. Néret, Salvador Dalí, The Paintings, 1904-1946, vol. I, Cologne, 1994, no. 797 (illustrated p. 352).
Madrid, Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, 400 obras de Salvador Dalí de 1914 a 1983, 1983, no. 198 (illustrated p. 154); this exhibition later travelled to Barcelona, Palau Reial de Pedralbes, June - July 1983.
Gainsville, Georgia, Quinlan Art Center, A Hometown Collection, art from the area's private homes, 1988.
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'I believe in magic which ultimately consists quite simply in the ability to render imagination in the concrete terms of reality. Our over-mechanized age underestimates what the irrational imagination - which appears to be impractical but which is nonetheless fundamental to all these discoveries - is capable of... In the realm of the real, the struggles of production are now decisive and will be in the foreseeable future. But magic still plays a part in our world' (Salvador Dalí writing in Esquire magazine, August 1942, cited in R. Descharnes & G. Net, op. cit., p. 356).

Between 1942 and 1946 the central preoccupation of Dalí's art was with the creation of a number of fantastical designs for plays and ballets for the New York stage. This period of concentrating on work for theatrical productions culminated in Dalí's celebrated collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock for the movie 'Spellbound', in which Dalí created a number of dramatic sets for the dream sequence of this psychoanalytical thriller about the power of the unconscious.

This design for the set of Romeo and Juliet is a fully worked oil painting made as part of the preparation for the 1942 New York production of the ballet Romeo and Juliet, for which Dalí had been commissioned to produce the sets. With its army of cherubs building a canopy for the two lovers supported on Dalnean crutches, this work depicts the main set of the theatrical production showing Dalí's conception of the wing flats and the backdrop.