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Figure at a window (1925)
Personnage à la fenêtre
Analysis: 1) As a youth, Dalí did numerous portraits of his sister, Ana-Maria, often painted on copper and very small in size. This one, larger and on canvas, is considered as one of the most beautiful. It was shown on Dalí’s first one-man exhibition, in Barcelona at the Dalmau Gallery in November 1925. In her book “Salvador Dalí, visto por su hermana“, Ana-Maria wrote: “The portraits that my brother painted of me during this period are innumerable. Many were simple studies of hair and a bare shoulder.” She remembers the long hours of posing during which, serving as his model, she never tired of “looking at the landscape which from then on and forever was a part of me. Indeed Salvador always painted me near a window!” Such a portrait is “Seated Girl, Seen from the Back“. In “Figure at a Window“, Ana-Maria poses in the room on the first floor of the paternal home in Cadaqués which Salvador used as a studio. When corresponding with Ana-Maria, Lorca wrote: “My stay in Cadaqués was so marvelous that it seemed to me like a beautiful dream, particularly the awakenings with what one sees from the window.” For the painter this room remains associated with a closer, sadder vision. In 1950, while he was working on the little rhinoceros painted in bas-relief on the base of “The Madonna of Port Lligat“, he was told of his father’s death. It was there, in front of that window, that he had seen him for the last time.
2) Both “Figure at a Window” and “Seated Girl Seen from the Back” were painted in 1925, using oil on canvas. The model was Ana Maria, Dalí’s younger sister and only sibling. For a long time Dalí and Ana Maria were extremely close, especially after their mother’s death, when Ana Maria took on the role of mother to the demanding Dalí. Ana Maria was the only female model Dalí used until Gala replaced her in 1929.
In 1949, Ana Maria wrote an autobiography that portrayed a very different view of Dalí to the one he had carefully constructed in his autobiographies; this led to the collapse of their relationship. In revenge for Ana Maria’s disloyalty, Dalí painted another version of this “Figure at a Window” in 1954 and called it “Young Virgin Autosodomized by her Own Chastity“.
As with “Seated Girl Seen from the Back“, we can not see the face of the girl and so our focus is drawn to the view that she is looking at from her window. The view is the bay of Cadaqués, a Spanish seaside town where the Dalís spent their summers. The predominant colors of light blues and lavenders give the painting a peaceful feel that is unusual in much of Dalí’s work.