The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of June 26, 2017

The Dream, 1931

oil on canvas, Framed: 120 x 120 x 7.7 cm (47 3/16 x 47 3/16 x 3 in); Unframed: 96 x 96 cm (37 3/4 x 37 3/4 in). John L. Severance Fund 2001.34

The Dream gives visual form to the strange, often disturbing world of dreams and hallucinations. Ants cluster over the face of the central figure, obscuring the mouth, while the sealed, bulging eyelids suggest the sensory confusion and frustration of a dream. The man at the far left - with a bleeding face and amputated left foot - refers to the classical myth of Oedipus, who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. The column that grows from the man’s back and sprouts into a bust of a bearded man refers to the Freudian father, the punishing superego who suppresses the son’s sexual fantasies. In the distance, two men embrace, one holding a golden key or scepter symbolizing access to the unconscious. Behind them, a naked man reaches into a permeable red form, as if trying to enter it.

Paris, Centre Pompidou, March 6-June 24, 2002, La Révolution Surréaliste, listed p. 433, repr. p. 205.
Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy (9/12/2004 - 1/16/2005) and Philadelphia Museum of Art (2/16/2005 - 5/30/2005): "Salvador Dalí," ex. cat. no. 90, p. 152-153.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (06/21/2005 - 09/11/2005); "CMA Highlights"
Cleveland Museum of Art (10/15/2006 - 06/03/2007); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (03/04/2007 - 06/03/2007); "Barcelona & Modernity: Picasso, Gaudí. Miró, Dalí", fig. 6 (cat. 7:35), p. 352, repr. 352.
CMA (organizer). Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: June 9 - Sept. 16, 2007; Cleveland Museum of Art, Oct. 21, 2007- January 13, 2008; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, Feb. 21-June 1, 2008; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT, June 22 - September 21, 2008; and the Detroit Institute of Arts, MI, October 12, 2008 - January 18, 2009: "Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art"

c. 1930 - c. 1945-1951 Vicomte Charles [1891-1981] and Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles [1902-1970], Paris, by exchange to Félix Labisse1
By 1952 - at least 1972 Félix Labisse [1905-1982], Neuilly-sur-Seine, France2
Before 1999 Gerrit Lansing [1942-2010] New York
By 1999 - 2001 Daniel Filipacchi [b. 1928] Paris/New York, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art
2001- The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio


1The Vicomte Charles de Noailles, Dalí's most important patron during his early Surrealist years, may have purchased the painting directly from Dalí, although further research is required to confirm or disprove this speculation. The Noailles certainly owned the painting by 1931, when they are listed as its owners in an exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Colle in Paris.

2Françoise Hersaint, wife of Surrealist collector Claude Hersaint and good friend of Labisse, thought that Labisse had acquired The Dream from the Noailles by exchange between 1945 and 1951, and recalled that when she first visited Labisse's home in 1952, the painting was already in his collection. Labisse certainly had the painting by 1956, when he is listed as its owner in a Dalí exhibition at the Casino de Knokke in Belgium.


Der surrealismus 1922-1942. München: Ausstellunseitung Hans der Kunst, 1972.

Exposition internationale du surréalisme, and André Breton. The International Surrealist Exhibition: Thursday, June 11th to Saturday, July 4th, 1936, New Burlington Galleries. London: International Surrealist Exhibition, English Committee, 1936.

Martin-Méry, Gilberte. Bosch, Goya, et le fantastique; catalogue. Bordeaux, 20 mai-31 juillet, 1957. [Bordeaux]: [Imprimeries Delmas], 1957.

Pauwels, Louis. Salvador Dalí Exposition, Knokke Le Zoute-Albert Plage, Casino Communal, 1 juillet-10 septembre 1956. Bruxelles: Éditions de la Connaissance, 1956.

Pierre Colle (Firm). Exposition Salvador Dalí: du 3 au 15 juin 1931. Paris: Pierre Colle, 1931.

Sylvain Bellenger, email to William Robinson, April 13, 2001, in CMA curatorial file.

Weisberger, Edward. Surrealism, Two Private Eyes: The Nesuhi Ertegun and Daniel Filipacchi Collections. New York, N.Y.: Guggenheim Museum, 1999.

The provenance research on this object is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

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