Etching by Salvador Dali (Autumn)
Copperplate etching, 1970
Restrike from the original plate
Gift of J. Mac McPherson, 2000
The public prominence of paintings by Catalan artist Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) obscures the variety of forms his work assumed, including sculpture, drawing, films, writing, jewelry, furniture, costumes, theater, performance, and prints. Dalí produced a sizeable body of print editions, some seventeen hundred during his career. He learned copperplate etching from Juan Núñez in his hometown of Figueres following his 1923 expulsion for disrespectful behavior from Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. Dalí’s mastery of graphic techniques grew to include engraving, lithography, photo-lith, woodblock, wood engraving, linoleum cut, and mixed media designs for book production.
This etching from 1970 delineates a serene young Bacchus crowned with a basket of fruit, escorted by putti, and walking into the sunlight. It presents a contrast to the somber or even menacing paintings titled Puzzle of Autumn, Autumnal Cannibalism, and Autumn Sonata completed by Dalí in the 1930s and 1940s. Dalí and his wife, business representative, and inspiration, Gala (nee Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, 1894–1982), fled to France and then to the United States during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. They returned to the fishing village of Port Lligate in Catalonia in 1949 as their residence and Dalí’s studio, remaining until their deaths. The turn of the seasons would have been particularly apparent to Gala and Salvador as they watched the fisherfolk in Port Lligate and vineyards and fields of surrounding communities. Dalí celebrated the end of the harvest in Autumn using traditional iconography in his expressive, lyrical line.
Other examples of Dalí’s original work are available in Bridwell Library Special Collections:
Biblia sacra vulgatae editionis. Mediolani, Italy: Rizzoli, 1967. One hundred illustrations by Salvador Dalí in five volumes.
Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Maecenas Press, 1969. Twelve illustrations with original woodcuts and an original etching by Salvador Dalí.
Benvenuto Cellini. The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1946. Illustrated by Salvador Dalí.
The donor of Autumn, J. Mac McPherson, is a retired member of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and former staff member of Bridwell Library.