Lot 8
  • 8

Leonora Carrington (B. 1917)

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  • Leonora Carrington
  • Un Sueño en el Bosque (The 19th Hole)
  • signed lower left
  • 45 by 64 in.
  • (114.4 by 162.5 cm)
  • Painted circa 1958.
oil on canvas


Galería Proteo, Mexico City
Galería de Arte Misrachi, Mexico City
Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico (1970)
Gregorio Shapiro, Mexico
Acquired from the above


Mexico, Museo de Arte Moderno, Exposición Retrospectiva de Pinturas y
Tapices de Leonora Carrington
, July-August, 1960, n.n. 


Juan García Ponce and Leonora Carrington, Leonora Carrington, Mexico, Ediciones ERA, 1974, p. 41, illustrated in color
Whitney Chadwick, Leonora Carrington, La Realidad de la Imaginación, Mexico, Ediciones ERA, 1994, no. 45, p. 162, illustrated in color, pl. 45
Lourdes Andrade, Leonora Carrington, historia en dos tiempos, Mexico, Círculo de Arte, 1998, n.p., illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

In Un Sueño en el Bosque (The 19th Hole) Leonora Carrington once again balances on the razor sharp edge between the uncanny and social satire. In the dead of night the mists part in a deep forest to reveal a strange and unsettling crowd of black-cloaked figures gathered in a clearing.  In the sky above, a flock of ghostly white birds flies to the left as a zigzag of lightening flashes in front of them, as if to light their way and illuminate the proceedings below.  In the center a pale androgynous figure floats gracefully down to earth on an elegant white horse – both of their legs stretched out in the excitement of arrival.  Surrounding the clearing, like stage backdrops, are a number of bare trees whose slender but gnarled limbs mimic and echo those of the nearby figures.  Pomegranates dangle in one tree, black swans or geese eat golden fruit in another and the general atmosphere is one of anticipation in this makeshift natural sports arena in the realm of shadows. Painted in 1958, this is an exquisite example of Carrington’s esoteric interests at the time and features a subtle palette of brown and golden hues accentuated with theatrical touches of red and white.

Although what drama is truly unfolding in the foreground is anyone’s guess, close scrutiny provides clues.  Given the gloomy and isolated forest setting, combined with the foreground’s central figure in an outstretched pose of invocation, one might first imagine a witch’s Sabbath on an autumnal evening. All of these quasi-human personages are enveloped in dark robes and are crowned with odd pointed hats from which sprout curling feather-like accessories – such garments reinforcing the initial impression of sorcery. Flaming red eyebrows add a preternatural sharpness to their attentive glances and humorously suggest a batrachian’s night vision.  On the left a seated figure nonchalantly pushes a red orb with a stick, his crossed-legs and delicate gestures bespeak an aristocratic ease.  The six figures opposite him are involved in a variety of activities; one seems to be magically levitating a large black egg, others are accompanied by and are communicating with hybrid creatures, some of which walk upright like humans.

The focal point of the painting is in actuality easy to miss, but once discerned provides the keystone of meaning.  In the center foreground is a small hole marked by a little flag, surrounded by small orbs that have apparently missed their mark.  Is this a paranormal game of golf played with either fallen pomegranates or alchemical eggs?   In Whitney Chadwick’s 1994 book on the artist, Leonora Carrington: La realidad de la imaginación, this same work is amusingly titled The 19th Hole.  It is not unusual for Carrington’s work to have two titles, and this additional one indeed confirms our suspicions.  Mixing her love of the occult with a finely honed sense of satire, Carrington takes a critical jab at the upper-class pretensions of her British upbringing and alchemically fuses the sacred and the profane.  The mise-en-scène depicted in Un Sueño en el Bosque (The 19th Hole) is a perfect example of what Carlos Fuentes, in a 1965 essay on Carrington, would affectionately dub her “ironical sorcery.”

Susan Aberth, New York, 2006