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Dalí i Domènech, Salvador

The Smiling Venus

c.1921
Temper on cardboard
51.50 x 50.30 cm.
TEATRE-MUSEU DALI

© Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2004.

Along with the sensual (or clearly sexual) features, we have the smiling face of the girl who "offers herself", just as in the foreground some food delicacies (wine, fruit, etc.) are "offering themselves" in consonance with the landscape: a cove in which two lateen-sail boats are cutting through the water with their corresponding reflections. The painting - oil on cardboard - which uses for the marine view in the background a pointillist technique often to be found in Dalí's work over the course of 1921 and 1922, was probably conceived as an ironic version of the feminine archetypes of Catalan Noucentisme. This we might deduce from the girl's vulgar face, jutting breasts and open legs, features which, rather than constituting a kind of homage, seem more like a sarcastic distortion of Giorgione's idealized figures. This leads us to think that the model for this nude was not so much Giorgione's Venus as the reclining figure which Joaquim Sunyer had placed at the centre of his Pastoral, a work dating from 1910-11 and often taken to be one of the first mature steps within the noucentista aesthetics. The similarity between the two female figures - Dalí's and Sunyer's - is indeed very great. And if so, the thesis of an ironic commentary on noucentista aesthetics and thought would be reinforced still further.
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