Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale


Max Ernst
1891 - 1976
signed Max Ernst (lower right)
oil on canvas in original artist's frame
21.7 by 26.7cm., 8 1/2 by 10 1/2 in.
Painted in 1926.
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Serge Lifar, Paris
Acquired by the present owner in 2000


Paris, Galerie Vignon, Collection de peintures de nos jours appartenant à Serge Lifar, 1929


Werner Spies, Sigrid & Günter Metken & Jürgen Pech (ed.), Max Ernst, Werke 1925-1929, Cologne, 1976, vol. II, no. 996, illustrated p. 105
Robert McNab, Ghost Ships, A Surrealist Love Triangle, New Haven, 2004, no. 82, illustrated in colour, p. 164

Catalogue Note

The present work is a study that Max Ernst executed for a stage design for Constant Lambert's Romeo and Juliet, perfomed in 1926 by Diaghilev Nijinska's Ballets Russes in Monte Carlo. The first owner of this work was the dancer and choreographer Serge Lifar, who joined the Ballets Russes in 1923 at the age of eighteen. Diaghilev was immediately struck by Lifar's dance and, under his sponsorship, went on to become one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the twentieth century. 'For a long time', wrote Arnold Haskell, 'the Russian ballet had been considered bourgeois by the Surrealist group [...] the obvious thing to do was to commission décor from some of the group and win them over that way'. In 1926 they commissioned Max Ernst and Joan Miró to design the curtains and the front cloth respectively of the Ballets Russes of Monte Carlo. This collaboration was a great success and led to other major Surrealist artists such as Dalí to do similar collaborations.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale