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Work of the Week | 23 January 2023

CAG.1849 Salvador Dalí, Four Dreams of Paradise: Romantic, c.1972, coloured lithograph, 66 x 50 cm. Bequeathed, Fr John McGrath, 1998. © the artist’s estate.


Four Dreams of Paradise: Romantic (c.1972) is a coloured lithograph by one of the most recognisable artists of the twentieth century, Salvador Dalí, who died on this day in 1989.

Teeming with complex imagery typical of his style, this work brings together characteristic elements of the artist’s work.

A figure reminiscent of his ‘Saint Anthony’ crosses an expanse of landscape fringed with rocky outcrops. Above this, a sleeping head faces downwards with ants crawling across its cheek, perhaps symbolising death, destruction, and decay.

An eruption of blue colour, with hints of red, green, and yellow draw attention upwards to a cluster of collage-like elements representing animals, gods (including Poseidon and Triton), and eroticism.

The collective meaning of these assembled elements may be deliberately obscure, emerging as they do from Dalí’s well-trodden path to the unconscious. The subtitle of the work, however, suggests a Romantic focus on individualism, subjectivity, and inspiration itself.

Printmaker’s Mark: The initials ‘h.c.’ that appear in the bottom left corner of this print denote ‘hors commerce’ (meaning: for commercial use). They suggest that this lithograph was used to promote the edition of 1,075 printed by Grapholith, Paris and published by Zeit Magazin, Hamburg.

Although this is the only one in the Collection, Romantic is accompanied by three other prints in the series, respectively subtitled Mystic, Heroic, and Gala (named for Dalí’s wife).

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) looms large in the public perception of Surrealism. The Spanish artist also delved into cinema, collaborating with Luis Buñuel on Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or (1930) and creating the dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945).

Four Dreams of Paradise: Romantic (c.1972) by Salvador Dalí is featured in OTHER WORLDS: Harry Clarke Watercolours until 19 March.

The Arts House: Conor Tallon chats with curator Michael Waldron about a work from the Collection every Sunday morning on Cork’s 96FM and C103 Cork. You can listen back to this week’s chat here:


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