Lot 27
  • 27

Salvador Dalí

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  • Salvador Dalí
  • Echo nostalgique
  • Signed and dated Gala Salvador Dalí 1935 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 38 by 38 in.
  • 96.5 by 96.5 cm


Acquired before 1939 and thence by descent


Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, The Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, 1935, no. 324

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Leslie M. Maitland, 1939

Los Angeles, Art Galleries of the University of California, Ruth McClymonds Maitland Collection, 1959

Hollywood, Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, An Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings by Salvador Dalí, 1964

New York, Gallery of Modern Art Including the Huntington Hartford Collection, Columbus Circle, Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965, 1965-66, no. 70

Providence, Rhode Island School of Design, 1980-89 (long-term loan)

Providence, Museum of Art, Rhode Island Schol of Design, 1900 to Now: Modern Art from Rhode Island Collections, 1988


James Thrall Soby, Salvador Dalí - Paintings, Drawings and Prints, New York, 1941, illustrated p. 57

Rosamund Frost, Contemporary Art, New York, 1942, illustrated p. 170

Robert Descharnes, Salvador Dali, The Work, The Man, New York, 1984, illustrated p. 202

Robert Descharnes and Gilles Néret, Salvador Dali, 1904-1989, The Paintings, Volume I, 1904-1946, Hamburg, 1994, no. 597, illustrated p. 267; vol. II, no. 597, catalogued p. 755 (with incorrect dimensions)

Catalogue Note

The uncanny images and strange scenarios that Dalí rendered in his paintings all derived, in one way or another, from life.  For some of his compositions Dalí painted hyper-realistic depictions of objects or people, such as his wife Gala, which gave his compositions a certain photographic truth.  In others, he created improbable imagery that had no relation to the known world but nevertheless resonated on some level with the human experience.  The present painting from 1935 is an example of a picture that combines both techniques.  Robert Descharnes explains that the figure of the girl skipping rope was inspired by the image of the belltower of Ana Maria Dalí's school in Figueras. One can only guess the origin of other elements of this composition.  For example, the pentagonal portal, dotted by a spherical window, has no specific architectural correlation, but the familarity of its shape invites an assortment of comparisons, from a key hole to the form of the letter "i."  Dalí appreciated the randomness of these associations and reveled in manipulating the visual expectations of his audience.  Indeed, this was a hallmark of Surrealist painting, and Dalí was a genius at exploiting this effect to its greatest potential.

Rosamund Frost wrote a succinct explanation for Dalí's artistic success: "Salvador Dalí is the most famous Surrealist for the excellent reason that his work is the most accomplished, the most startling, and the best advertised.  Dalí developed to an extreme pitch the Surrealist technique: 'scandals', protests, affronts, and so on.  However, it is considered to be perfectly honorable to advertise a bona fide ware and Dalí beyond doubt has the goods.  His technique, which he calls 'handmade photography,' bowls over the people who come to carp.  Dalí's process is to pick an image out of his imagination and allow it to suggest associated images.  In this way, his pictures are not composed but filled up" (Frost, op. cit., p. 26). 

Prior to his completion of the present oil, Dalí did a pencil study for Echo nostalgique (see fig. 1) and a few related paintings, including Morphological Echo, currently in the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida (see fig. 2).  Many historians have pointed out the similarity between Dalí's Echo compositions and Giorgio de Chirico's Mystery and Melancholy of a Street (see fig. 3).  The severity of the architecture, the desolateness of the landscape and the child-like figure, skipping rope through the deserted plaza evoke the sense of forebodance and looming danger that characterized de Chirico's Metaphysical compositions of the 1910s.  Dalí was admittedly transfixed by de Chirico's work, and had the following to say about the Italian artist's aesthetic: " All the calm, the tranquility, the stasis [...] of Giorgio de Chirico was dramatic because constantly threatened.  All that geometric anesthesia was moving because it abandoned Futurism and vaguely foreshadowed Surrealism" (quoted in Salvador Dalí  (exhibition catalogue), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 1990, p. 203).

In his 1941 monograph on the artist, Museum of Modern Art curator James Thrall Soby gave the following analysis of this picture: "Simultaneously with his development of the multiple image, Dalí has adapted to his own use a related visual phenomenon: that of the object which, once seen, recurs in the imagination time and again, sometimes varying as to identity and scale but always remaining the same in general outline.  For want of a better term, the phenomenon may be called that of the repetitive form.  It has been more or less widely experienced, since nearly everyone has at times been troubled by a shape which recurs everywhere, assuming inexplicable guise.  Dalí has recorded his own paranoiac sensitivity to the phenomenon in a number of paintings. In Nostalgic echo the bell in the tower becomes in succession a girl skipping rope, a keyhole in the chest of drawer, and a shadowly figure standing under the far arcade.  As in the case of the multiple image, Dalí believed the recognition of repetitive images to be limited only by 'paranoiac' capacity" (Soby, op. cit., p. 26).

Fig. 1, Salvador Dalí, Echo nostalgique, 1935, pencil, Collection Mr. and Mrs. A. Reynolds Morse, on loan to Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg

Fig. 2, Salvador Dalí, Echo morphologique, circa 1934-35, oil on canvas, Collection Mr. and Mrs. A. Reynolds Morse, on loan to Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg

Fig. 3, Giorgio de Chirico, Mystery and Melancholy of a Street, 1914, oil on canvas, Private Collection