Julien Levy Gallery, New York (by 1934)
Louise Crane, New York
Estate of Louise Crane (sold: Christie's, New York, May 13, 1998, lot 306)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Paintings by Salvador Dalí, 1934, no. 13 (titled Masquerader, intoxicated by the limpid atmosphere)
Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dalí, 2005 no. 142 (titled Spectre of Vermeer)
The Salvador Dalí Museum, Cleveland, Ninety-three oils by Salvador Dalí: 1917-1970, 1973, p. 157
The Salvador Dalí Museum, Cleveland, Salvador Dalí...a panorama of his art, 1974, p. 157
Robert Descharnes and Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí 1904-1989, The Paintings, vol. I, Cologne, 1994, no. 500, illustrated p. 223
Ludion, Amsterdam, Les Essentiels de l'art Dalí, 2003, illustrated on the frontispiece, p. 140
Montse Aguer, Salvador Dalí, Catalogue raisonné of Paintings (1910-1939), no. 365 (online reference: www.salvador-dali.org)
This seminal composition is one of several from the mid-1930s (see fig. 1) in which Dalí addressed the theme of Le Chevalier de la mort. The central character originated in Dalí's The Enigma of William Tell of 1933, and appeared in several canvases of 1934. The present work is one of two closely related compositions in which Dalí pays tribute to the Dutch seventeenth century painter Johannes Vermeer. But when this painting was exhibited at Julien Levy's gallery in New York, it was given the narrative title Masquerader, intoxicated by the limpid atmosphere. The title, it seems, was of secondary importance to the artist, who relied upon the viewer to understand his message through a visual engagement with the work at hand. In a lecture delivered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1934, Dalí revealed his major themes and preoccupations at the time: "To understand an aesthetic picture, training in appreciation is necessary, cultural and intellectual preparation. For Surrealism the only requisite is a receptive and intuitive human being (...) The subconscious has a symbolic language that is truly a universal language for it does not depend on education or culture or intelligence but speaks with the vocabulary of the great vital constants, sexual instinct, sense of death, physical notion of the enigma of space these vital constants are universally echoed in every human being" (quoted in Salvador Dalí (exhibition catalogue), The Tate Gallery, London, 1908, pp. 15-16).
The present work was once in the collection of Louise Crane, philanthropist and daughter of Massachusetts governor and U.S. Senator Winthrop Murray Crane and the pioneering patron of the arts and avid collector Josephine Boardman Crane. Louise Crane was the publisher of the anti-Franco journal IBERICA and was fascinated by Spanish culture and politics all of her life. This picture remained in her collection until her death in 1997.
Fig. 1, Salvador Dalí, The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be used as a Table, 1934, oil on panel, Mr. & Mrs. A. Reynolds Morse, on loan to Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida
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