Lot 51
  • 51

Oscar Dominguez

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Oscar Dominguez
  • Epoque lithocronique
  • signed O. Dominguez and dated 39 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 100 by 81.2cm.
  • 39 3/8 by 32in.


Noël Arnaud, Paris & Penne-de-Tarn

Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1980s


Marseille, Centre de la Vieille Charité, La planète affolée. Surréalisme, Dispersion et Influences, 1938-1947, 1986, no. 84

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, El Surrealismo en España, 1994-95, no. 55, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Centro de Arte 'La Granja' & Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Oscar Dominguez. Antológica 1926-1957, 1996, no. 61, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


La Part du jeu et du rêve, Oscar Dominguez et le surréalisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Cantini, Marseille, 2005, fig. 61, illustrated in colour p. 56 (titled Sans titre)

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1939, Epoque lithocronique is an important work from Domínguez’s celebrated période cosmique. The muted palette and mesmerising waves of shifting forms are characteristic of his paintings of this period (fig. 1), creating a vast and otherworldly dreamscape in which tangible points of reference are lost to view. Such visions were a recurring theme of Surrealist painting but in Domínguez’s work of the late 1930s they took on a new significance as a crucial part of his contribution to the development of visual automatism.     

Fellow surrealist painter Marcel Jean described how Domínguez used to invite friends to his studio on the Boulevard Montparnasse and then continued to paint whilst engaging in conversation with them, allowing the colours to flow from his brush without the conscious effort of mixing them on the palette. The spontaneous suggestiveness of this technique offered a painterly solution to the Surrealist problem of working within the realm of the subconscious. For Marcel Jean, Domínguez’s cosmic paintings constituted his greatest achievement, and he described the way they succeed in ‘revealing an aspect of the psyche impossible to control consciously [...] with subtle tones of grey and blue that evoke the celestial miasma of Tanguy, he created an undulating, stratified ground that deftly transformed itself into clear and dense spheres’ (M. Jean, Histoire de la peinture surréaliste, Paris, 1959, p. 266, translated from French).

The cosmic element of these works was alluded to by André Breton as early as 1939, in his seminal text ‘Des tendances les plus récentes de la peinture surréaliste’. Breton described Domínguez as the painter who could, ‘with a movement of the arm as unstudied and quick as that of a window cleaner [...] transport us into those realms of pure fascination that have remained unvisited since, as children, we contemplated colour images of meteors in books’ (A. Breton quoted in La Part du jeu et du rêve. Oscar Domínguez et le surréalisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 199, translated from French). 

The first owner of this work was the French writer and art patron Noël Arnaud (1919-2003). An important supporter and friend of the Surrealists, he was a member of the group La Main à plume and edited a publication of the same name that included contributions by Domínguez among other celebrated Surrealist artists.