From our archive | La Dame Ovale

For this week’s Archive Thursday we are looking at a livre d’artiste written by the Surrealist painter, poet and author Leonora Carrington, and illustrated by Max Ernst.

Leonora Carrington, La Dame Ovale 1939. Illustrated by Max Ernst.

‘La Dame Ovale’ (1939), is one of an edition of 535, and accompanied by seven collages by Ernst. The text tells the tale of a girl called Lucretia, who owns a talking Magpie called Matilda, and is bound together with several other Surrealist short stories by Carrington.

Carrington’s fascination with horses is reflected in Ernst’s illustrative prints. Horses often come to symbolise the creative energy of Carrington’s female protagonists. In the final pages of ‘La Dame Ovale’, Lucretia is transformed into a horse, whose coat is so startlingly white that it starts to melt as though made of snow. This imagery is repeated in our recent acquisition Portrait of Max Ernst (about 1939), wherein Carrington depicts Ernst surrounded by a snowy landscape, and in the background we can see what appears to be a horse made from ice.

Gallery talk | Portrait of Max Ernst

Portrait of Max Ernst came into the National Galleries of Scotland's collection in 2018. In this talk, Curator Patrick Elliot discusses the work, which is the first by this highly significant artist to enter a Scottish public collection.

22 April 2020