La Joie de vivre [The Joy of Life]
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015

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La Joie de vivre [The Joy of Life] 1936

On Display Modern Two

This is one of a number of so-called 'jungle' pictures that Max Ernst painted in the late 1930s. His paintings of forests and tangled undergrowth derive from the rich Romantic heritage in German art. They also symbolise the fears and suppressed desires of the human mind. Looking at the picture more closely, the title becomes bitterly ironic. This jungle is actually ordinary undergrowth grown to enormous proportions, dwarfing a sculpture of a woman and animal living together in harmony. Instead of a paradise, the scene is a nightmarish one in which giant praying mantises do battle with other monsters in the entangled undergrowth.

Glossary Open


A movement in art, literature and music in the 18th and 19th centuries that rejected neoclassical restraint in favour of emotion and individual expression.



  • Acc. No. GMA 3886
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 73.50 x 93.00 cm
  • Credit Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund 1995