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Salvador Dalí

‘Persistence of Sound’ Earrings

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí

‘Persistence of Sound’ Earrings

‘Persistence of Sound’ Earrings

Authenticity guarantee

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Salvador Dalí

1904 - 1989

‘Persistence of Sound’ Earrings

1949, each signed Dalí on fronts, 18k hallmarks

pair of 18k gold earrings in the form of melting telephone receivers with post fittings; at the top of each is a faceted, domed ruby and a double band of five and four small diamonds above a kinetic cabochon ruby teardrop; at bottom on each is a single band of four diamonds, a cabochon emerald, and a kinetic cabochon emerald teardrop; produced by Alemany & Ertman Inc., New York together with the original fitted burgundy leather box; interior lid lined in cream silk with mount covered in rich purple velvet, sticker on underside of box numbered 16255 1DA4 O

1⅞ by ⅝ in.; 4.7 by 1.6 cm.

In good condition with gentle surface wear. The rubies medium to medium-deep pinkish red, slightly to moderately included. The emeralds medium bluish green, moderately to significantly included as is typical of the material. The single-cut diamonds near colorless and approximately VS clarity.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact by Sotheby's). Please also note that we do not guarantee, and are not responsible for, any certificate from a gemological laboratory that may accompany the lot. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the relevant section the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Alemany & Ertman Inc., New York

Private collection, Europe (acquired from above)

Sotheby’s London: Fine Jewels, December 17, 2008 [Lot 249]

Acquired from above by current owner

Lida Livingston, Dalí, A Study of his Art-in-Jewels, The Collection of the Owen Cheatham Foundation, New York Graphic Society, New York, 1959, pp. 34-5, no. XII

Salvador Dalí Foundation, Dalí: Jewels – Joyas, The Collection of the Gala/Salvador Dalí Foundation, Umberto Allemandi, Turin, 2001, pp. 13, 58-61

Diane Venet, From Picasso to Jeff Koons: The Artist as Jeweler, Skira, Milan, 2011, pp. 78-79

Diane Venet, Bijoux d'Artistes, de Calder à Koons, la collection idéale de Diane Venet, Flammarion, Paris, 2018, this pair illustrated pp. 66-7, no. 58

Paola Stroppiana, Scultura Aurea, Gioielli d'Artista per un nuovo Rinascimento, Gli Ori, Pistoia, 2019, p. 83

New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1941 – 1942

Miami, Bass Museum of Art, From Picasso to Jeff Koons, The Artist as Jeweler, 2011

Artist Salvador Dalí is probably most famous for his work The Persistence of Memory (1931), a landscape painting of a distinct kind of unreality featuring melting clocks in the desert which now resides in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (162.1934). His surreal works -- which he did not restrict to oils or canvases but expanded to a variety of deftly-handled materials and methods -- are at turns astonishing, entertaining, and thought provoking. These Persistence of Sound earrings, featuring a pair of melting telephone receivers, are intriguing pieces of art in the same way. Are they meant to evoke the ear-melting effects of being on the telephone (in 1949, a device present in only 60% of American homes -- a jump of twenty percent from the previous decade) and listening to a chatty relative for too long? Perhaps the pains of a call from one’s erstwhile lover? The literal melting of hot plastic on a steamy day? Dalí has depicted these mechanical devices out of 18k gold and crowned a miracle of modern efficiency and communication with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies to elevate it to another dimension entirely: that of the unreal.

Dalí thought often on the question of ‘si le bijou a été fait pour la peinture ou si la peinture a été faite pour le bijou,’ (if the jewelry was made for the painting or if the painting was made for the jewelry) and determined that ‘ils ont été faits l'un pour l'autre, c’est un mariage d'amour’ (they were made for each other, it is a marriage of love). (Diane Venet, Bijoux d'Artistes, de Calder à Koons, la collection idéale de Diane Venet, Flammarion, Paris, 2018, p. 66)

He reproduced Persistence of Memory’s melted pocket watches into a gold-and-diamond brooch, and the theme of melting objects comes through strongly in these Persistence of Sound earrings. His heavy use of gold and precious gems was financed by shipping magnate Eric Ertman, allowing Dalí to utilize the materials that spoke to him most strongly regardless of cost. Charles Valliant of the New York goldsmithing firm Valliant and Devere took over the actual creation of the jewels that Dalí designed.

For the artist, born in 1904, telephones themselves may have always carried a surreal novelty, reminding him of ‘the hope and danger of instantaneous exchange of thought.’ (Lida Livingston, Dalí, A Study of his Art-in-Jewels, New York Graphic Society, New York, 1959, p. 34) And in these earrings, he moves the receivers away from the literal and into a figurative dimension that asks the wearer to spin their own tale around the piece. Unintentionally he has also created a call to the past, as though we have all used phones like those depicted in this piece for decades, even landline phones now look very different. The Persistence of Sound has taken on new dimensions as a work of nostalgia when it was once a marvel of modern technology and — if we may make a tasteful pun — a call to the future.