Lot 330
  • 330

Salvador Dalí

130,000 - 180,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Salvador Dalí
  • Vénus de Milo aux tiroirs
  • Inscribed Salvador Dalí, numbered E.A. III/IV and stamped with the foundry mark C. Valsuani Cire Perdue
  • Bronze
  • Height: 45 1/4 in.
  • 114.3 cm


Jean-François Marchi, Brussels
Sale: Sotheby's, London, June 21, 2005, lot 386
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Robert & Nicolas Descharnes, Dalí: The Hard and the Soft, Sculptures & Objects, Catalogue Raisonée of Dalí Sculpture, Paris, 2004, no. 68, illustration of another cast p. 37

Catalogue Note

"In carving out drawers in the most famous of female nudes Dalí here brings together the two symbolic ideas, of the woman-container and of the mysterious depths of the human psyche" (Dawn Ades in Dalí's Optical Illusions (exhibition catalogue), Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. & Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 2000, p. 118).

The first version of this work was created in 1936 when Dalí, possibly with the technical assistance of Marcel Duchamp, modified a copy of the Vénus de Milo incorporating six drawers. As a child, Dalí had made a terracotta copy of the famous Greek marble at the Musée du Louvre, and recalled: "My first experience as a sculptor gave me an unknown and delicious erotic joy" (quoted in Salvador Dalí Retrospektive (exhibition catalogue), Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart & Kunsthaus, Zurich, 1989, p. 206).

The motif evolved further while Dalí was staying in England with Edward James, the renowned collector and supporter of the Surrealists. William Jeffett explains: "At that time his English was practically non-existent, which could account for the misunderstanding that arose upon hearing someone talk of a 'chest of drawers.' In interpreting this quite literally, Dalí in The Anthropomorphic Cabinet, as well as a number of drawings, was to show a reclining woman out of whose chest appeared numerous half-opened drawers... Further, the drawers suggest the obscure recesses of the human mind, in the sense of Freud’s conception of the unconscious" (William Jeffett in Dalí: The Centenary Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Palazzo Grassi, Venice & Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2004-05, p. 258). 

The same theme of the Vénus de Milo with drawers appears in several drawings and a painting of 1936, Le Cabinet anthropomorphique. As Robert Descharnes explained: "Dalí viewed his own subject matter as an allegorical means of tracing the countless narcissistic fragrances that waft up from every one of our drawers (as he put it). And he declared that the sole difference between immortal Greece and the present day was Sigmund Freud, who had discovered that the human body, purely neo-platonic at the time of the Greeks, was now full of secret drawers which only psychoanalysis could pull open" (Robert Descharnes & Gilles Néret, op. cit., p. 276).