Salvador Dalí on Jewellery

By Sotheby's

Three beautiful jewels designed by Salvador Dalí will be offered in the upcoming Fine Jewels auction in London on the 20 March. The two gold necklaces and an intricate ruby and diamond heart brooch all bear Dalí's hallmark idiosyncratic approach to presenting traditional objects. Ahead of the sale, we look back over Dalí's thoughts on jewellery design.

As a leading figure in the Surrealist movement, Dalí was fascinated with widely-celebrated images such as the Heart, the Cross, the Crown and the Madonna; and these charming and delicate pieces are no exception to this pattern. His real skill was to reinvent famous motifs with his inquisitive eye. Dalí would often distort a figure until it became abstract, yet still recognisable. He was seduced and inspired by the female form, a theme to which the artist returned time and again. Whilst painting was the medium for which he was most famous, Dalí experimented with design, film-making and costume design throughout his career, relishing the opportunity to investigate the creative world around him, and to collaborate with the most innovative minds in the arts.

Jasper "Yogi" Gough


The Carmen La Crotalos necklace was designed to celebrate the Metropolitan Opera House performance of Carmen. Accompanying this piece is the Madonna of Port Lligat — another pendent, and named after his 1949 painting of the same name. This crossover between painting and jewellery was something explored in considerable depth by the artist, from 1941 right up until the 1970s. Images of mouths and eyes and that appeared in his most famous works, also featured in his exquisitely detailed creations. 

Dalí on Design and Inspiration

"In jewels, and in all my artistic activity, I create what I love most. In some of them one can discern an architectural meaning, as it also happens in some of my paintings. Once again, the logarithmic law is highlighted, as well as the interrelation between spirit and matter, between space and time."

Jasper "Yogi" Gough


Dalí on Anthropomorphism

"Anthropomorphic themes appear and reappear in my jewels. I see the human form in trees, leaves, animals; I see animal and vegetal characteristics  in  humans. My art — in painting, diamonds, rubies, pearls, emeralds, gold, chrysolite — demonstrate how metamorphosis comes about; human beings create and change. When they sleep, they change totally — into flowers, plants, trees. The new metamorphosis takes place in Heaven. The body becomes once again whole and reaches  perfection".

Jasper "Yogi" Gough


Dalí on the Relationship between Time and Space

"I have been aware of the relation between time and space since childhood. However my invention of the "soft clock"— first in oil painting and then later, in 1950, in gold and precious stones — caused a division of opinion: approval and understanding, skepticism and incredulity. Today, in American schools, my "soft clock" is shown as a prophetic expression of the fluidity of time — the indivisibility of time and space. The speed of travel in the present times (space travel) confirms that belief. Time is not rigid, it is fluid."


Dalí on Serious Frivolity

"Illusory! Dalínian jewels are totally serious. I'm glad that people smile at telephone earrings. A smile is something pleasant. But those earrings, like all my jewels, are serious. They represent the ear; symbol of harmony and unity. They connote the speed of modern means of communication; the hope and the danger of an instantaneous change of thought."

Two paintings by Salvador Dalí, Gradiva (1931) and Maison pour érotomane (1932), were recently sold in the Surrealist Art Evening Sale in London on 28 February. You can read about the history of these works, here.


CLICK HERE to view the full catalogue for Fine Jewels.

CLICK HERE to view the full catalogue for the Surrealist Art Evening Sale.

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

More from Sotheby's