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© Roland Penrose Estate, England 2010.The Roland Penrose Collection. All rights reserved.

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Painting 1937

Not on display

This painting demonstrates Penrose’s interest in frottage, a technique that was introduced into surrealist art by Max Ernst in 1925. Frottage particularly lent itself to Surrealism as it produced random results, which encouraged the artist to develop the imagery in an inventive manner. Penrose has employed the technique here on the central, circular area that resembles the sun featured in Ernst’s painting, ‘Max Ernst Showing a Young Girl the Head of his Father’. Within this a panelled path leads into the distance, perhaps a portal into another world. Yet the painted texture at the bottom of the canvas and the shell-like object precariously balanced on top of the circular form ground the image in the present.

Glossary Open


A technique in which paper or canvas is placed over a grainy surface and rubbed with a crayon or charcoal. This was often used by Surrealist artists to create chance effects. From the French word ‘frotter’, meaning ‘to rub’.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Frottage, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 3910
  • Medium Oil on canvas laid on plywood
  • Size 72.90 x 59.90 cm
  • Credit Presented by Mr Antony Penrose 1995