Dalí for Argillet | Dom Juan

The Spanish fable, Dom Juan, has been fodder...

The Spanish fable, “Dom Juan,” has been fodder for plays, poetry, opera [Don Giovanni]; fine art, since the early 17th Century.  It seems, well, a bit surreal today.  Highly exaggerated characters; booming moral instructions; and massive leaps of illogic.  All in all, a lot of fun.  No wonder that its operatic- level plot has been used countless times by playwrights, poets, painters, and Giuseppe Verdi – [Don Giovani.] It’s not surprising that Dali and Argillet would decide to offer a version of it in an etching portfolio. Dom Juan is an atheist, a brawler, and Lothario, who claims to have been to bed with over a thousand women.  After many plot turns and tangents, while wooing the young noblewoman Dona Ana, her father confronts him.  They fight and Dom Juan kills him.  The climactic moment is at a banquet where he is a guest.  He is surprised to see the funerary sculpture from the father’s grave come to life.  The statue reaches out to shake his hand.  On grasping it, Dom Juan is hurtled down to Hell and eternal damnation.  In “The Banquet,” Dali chose to illustrate the moment just before Dom Juan’s doom.  He is sitting with the Statue – interpreted by Dali as a giant skull.  The composition is unique and eye-catching.  So strange, yet so placid, that something must be about to happen.  The second etching, “Nude,” with a courtier bowing to her in the background, is probably the Duchess Isabela, one of Dom Juan’s earlier victims.  “The Marquis” is the Marquis de la Mota; who earlier in the story had helped Dom Juan to disguise himself by lending him the red cape seen in “The Banquet.” Dali was a great draftsman, and it shows particularly in this piece, where energetic and seemingly spontaneous lines somehow convey a languid grace.  The slim, somewhat androgynous figure still conveys a sense of power and authority.

Documentation & Edition Details

Dom Juan
Released by Argillet, Paris. 1970.
A portfolio of 7 hand-colored heliogravures reworked with drypoint etching, with stenciled colors.
1-150 on Arches paper, hand-colored
I-C on Japanese paper, hand-colored and proofs.
Image size: 15.5 x 12.6 in. | 39.5 x 32 cm
Reference: Michler/Lopsinger 432-434.
Printed at Maeght, Paris,
Provenance of examples purchased:
Dali/Argillet to the Argillet family to SHFA to you.
The work you receive has been archivally stored, in Paris, for 47 years,
and is in untouched condition.

All images and text shown on this site are copyright © Sam Heller Fine Art.  Ltd., and may not be reproduced or distributed for any commercial purpose without express written permission under penalty of law. All rights reserved. Images displayed on this site of etchings by Salvador Dali are copyright Argillet/GSDF for imagery; and Sam Heller Fine Art, Ltd. for the actual digitally-framed, accuracy-adjusted, sample photographs displayed.