Lot 321
  • 321

Man Ray

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Man Ray
  • Marquis de Sade​
  • Inscribed ​S.a.d.e, ​dated​ III.12.1936​, and numbered ​1​ (lower right); inscribed ​Sade I​ (on the ​verso​)​
  • ​Pen and ink on paper​
  • 13 3/4 by 9 7/8 in.
  • 35 by 25 cm


Gallery Mayer, New York
Acquired from the above in 1960​


New York, Valentine Gallery, Drawings by Man Ray, 1936, no. 33
Paris, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Les Dessins de Man Ray, 1937, n.n.
New York, Gallery Mayer, Man Ray Drawings, 1959
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Man Ray, 1966, p. 105, illustrated


Man Ray & Paul Eluard, Les Mains Libres, Paris, 1937, p. 174, illustrated
Dictionnaire abregé du surréalisme, Paris, 1938 (published by Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris), p. 25, illustrated
Sarane Alexandrian, Man Ray, Paris & Berlin, 1973, p. 67, illustrated
Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, fig. 70, p. 89, detail illustrated
Janus, Man Ray, Tutti gli scritti, Milan, 1981, p. 221, illustrated
Adam Biro & René Passeron, Dictionnaire général du Surréalisme et de ses environs, Fribourg, 1982, p. 372, illustrated
Man Ray, l'occhio e il suo doppio, dipinti, collages, disegni, invenzioni fotografiche, ogetti d'affezione, libri, cinema (exhibition catalogue), Rome: Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 1975, fig. 28, illustrated, fig. 76, detail illustrated
Merry Foresta et al., ed., Perpetual Motif, The Art of Man Ray, Washington D.C., 1998, illustration of the work in oil p. 265
Man Ray Paris ~ LA (exhibition catalogue), Santa Monica: Track 16 Gallery / Robert Berman Gallery, 1996, p. 42, illustrated
Man Ray, Rétrospective 1912-1976 (exhibition catalogue), Nice: Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, 1997, p. 10, illustrated
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Sade / Surreal, 2001-02, p. 256, illustrated


Executed on cream wove paper. Affixed to mount at upper center and center of left and right edges on verso. Faint mat stain at extreme perimeter; small darker stains on extreme corners. One 1 cm tear at top edge near upper left corner. Sheet is slightly time-darkened overall but the line remains very strong. Overall in very good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

​​By the mid-1930s, Man Ray had lost much of his interest in commercial photography, dominated by fashion and commissioned portraiture, and returned to creating some of his finest Surrealist paintings. In Paris and the South of France in 1936-37, Man Ray completed a series of drawings, sixty-five of which would be published in Les Mains Libres, Paris in 1937. True to Surrealist fashion, the book was conceived to reproduce Man Ray's drawings which were in turn 'illustrated' by poems that Paul Eluard composed to accompany the drawings. The present drawing and a variant both feature in a chapter devoted to Man Ray's imaginary portraits of Sade, which would later serve as a basis for Man Ray's celebrated Imaginary Portrait of the Marquis de Sade, 1938 (The Menil Collection, Houston).

The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) and the freedom of his sexual writings and lifestyle were a source of fascination and inspiration to the Surrealists. While no contemporary portrait of Sade existed, Man Ray was at liberty to draw an ideological portrait of the writer, without constraint of likeness. He depicted Sade as a bust made of grey stone blocks in front of the burning Bastille where Sade had been imprisoned. Curiously and unwittingly, Man Ray did not complete the drawing of Sade's left eye. Only later did he discover that Sade had lost site in that eye.

In its first publication in Les Mains Libres, opposite the illustration of the present drawing, Eluard wrote: "On ne connnaît aucun portrait du marquis de Sade, écrivain fantastique et révolutionnaire."

This work is a study for an oil of the same subject ​Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade​ in the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas.​ (see fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Man Ray, Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade​, 1938, oil on canvas and wood, The Menil Collection, Houston.