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Dalí & the Rhinoceros

This week, we present to you a version of one of Salvador Dalí's most famous sculptures [Read more]

This week, we present to you a version of one of Salvador Dalí's most famous sculptures: Le Rhinocéros habillé en dentelle (The Rhinoceros dressed in lace). A true emblem of Dalí's imagination, there remain only a few examples of this sculpture in patinated bronze today. Some of the 60 cm high pieces can fetch more than €100,000. In 1956, the surrealist artist created a bronze rhinoceros measuring more than three metres and weighing 3.6 tonnes, which can be seen in the town of Marbella.

 

Le Rhinocéros habillé en dentelle : symbol of the Dalinian imagination

Our sculpture is in bronze with an old gold patina, signed on the base and authenticated by the stamp of the publisher Valsuani. It is included in the catalogue raisonné le Dur et le Mou, the famous catalogue written by Robert and Nicolas Descharnes listing the three-dimensional works of Salvador Dalí.

 

Salvador DALI
Rhinoceros dressed in lace

Original bronze sculpture, old gold patina
(lost wax technique)
Signed on the base
Authenticated by the stamp of the publisher Valsuani
Total height 23 x 32 cm

 

For the rhinocéros habillé en dentelle, the artist was inspired by Dürer's rhinoceros dating from 1515 and adding elements from his fantasy world such as the sea urchin and the lace armour.

 

 

Albrecht DÜRER
Rhinoceros by Dürer, 1515
Woodcut
British Museum, London, United Kingdom

 

By representing a rhinoceros, Dalí illustrates his personal vision and fantasies. The animal refers to the idea of strength and sexual power, particularly with the horn, which has a phallic and also almost a divine significance for the artist. The lace refers to Vermeer's painting, to femininity, to marriage. The sea urchin is a symbol of strength and immortality. These elements are also taken up in another of Dalí's sculptures, the rhinocéros cosmique (the cosmic rhinoceros) carrying an obelisk of sea urchin tests on its back, its legs strangely elongated like those of an insect.

 

 

Rhinoceros & The Lacemaker

Salvador Dalí has many obsessions. Among them are the famous painting by the painter Vermeer La Dentellière (The Lacemaker) and rhinoceros horns. He sees in the latter a form of divine perfection. On the subject of the rhinoceros he said: "The rhinoceros is the safe of cognition, a massive safe, more sculpted and worked than a bronze plate". 

 

Salvador Dali at the Vincennes Zoo
Happening at the Vincennes zoo where the painter Salvador Dali
confronted his art with a rhinoceros, around Vermeer's painting, the Lacemaker.
Image: AFP / GETTYIMAGES

 

 

In 1954, Dalí set himself a challenge: make a copy of Vermeer's work in less than an hour. The artist therefore went to the Louvre to create his work. Unsatisfied with his version, he went to the zoo of Vincennes and placed himself in the enclosure of a rhinoceros with a reproduction of La Dentellière, which the animal had to attack like a threat. The female figure (the lace) and the rhinoceros are two elements used in this work and in many other paintings.

More artworks by Dalí