Paysage Noir
Date 1923
Medium Oil on plywood
Dimensions 31.5 x 39.8 x 1 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-186
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This work has an illustrious provenance. Paul Éluard, four years younger than Max Ernst, was one of the members of the Paris Dada group, as well as one of the major surrealist writers. Éluard was fascinated by Ernst’s exhibition at the Galerie Au Sans Pareil in 1921 and went to Cologne to meet him. He chose 11 collages to illustrate 49 poems in Répétition, one of which was dedicated to the painter. The book was published in 1922. They spent the holidays together in the Tyrol and produced the joint work Les Malheurs des immortels, révélés par Paul Éluard e Max Ernst. When Ernst arrived in Paris in 1923, the year this painting was executed, Éluard was his principal source of assistance. The next owner of the work was Roland Penrose, the English painter, poet and photographer closely associated with the surrealist movement and its principal exponent and champion in the United Kingdom. The work then belonged to the wife of Humphrey Jennings, who helped organise the 1936 surrealist exhibition in London. This work was produced prior to the invention of frottage in 1925. In a foretaste of his later working method, Ernst manipulated the paint through scratching, rubbing and wiping away to suggest forms: a landscape of black water with rocks in the background at the edges, green vegetation beneath a black sky, with clouds and a black sun. A number of 1923 landscapes (Aiguilles Vertes et du dru, Roses de Iéricho [Roses of Jericho]) and figures (Le Gaulois mourant [The Dying Gaul], La Victoire de Samothrace [The Victory of Samothrace], Portrait de Paul Éluard) were produced using the same method. AC
Paul Éluard, Paris; Roland Penrose, London; Mrs Humphrey Jennings, London; Sotheby’s Auction, London, 7 July 1971; The Mayor Gallery, London; acquired in 1997.