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Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages

Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages

Salvador Dalí (in 1936)

Ask anything

  • Irene asked

    I see many surrealist works are travelling right now. will they be in Rotterdam during the last week of april? thanks

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Irene,

    Many of our surrealistic works are in Seoul right now, and will go to Mexico afterwards. At this point we are not sure when exactly they will be back with us. This information will be available on the website once received.

    Kind regards,

  • Lisa asked

    Hello again,

    I asked a question yesterday, but think I have found the answer. The object is simply a weight. I found a photo of a vintage weight yesterday that was very similar.


  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Oke, great! E.

  • Lisa asked


    Can you tell me what is the object looks like a weight in the middle of the table in the masculine half?


  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Lisa, thanks for your question. I am afraid that I cannot add much to what you have noticed already: the object looks like a weight and also seems to perform this function (prevent te table cloth from being blown away). I would describe it as a heavy brick and have tried to discern the object that is lying on top of it. Could that be a pair of glasses? Did Dali want to create a contrast here? The wonderful thing about a painting like this is that there is no single answer. You always keep thinking and wondering. I hope this is useful. All best, Els


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More information

The portraits of this couple, Dalí and his wife Gala, are formed by the contours of the frames. The composition of this work - the position of the heads - is borrowed from a famous painting by one of Dalí's favourite artists, the French painter Jean François Millet. 'The Angelus' shows a farmer and his wife saying evening prayers in their field. Dalí and Gala have assumed the same postures.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height Error: 98,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Width Error: 156,4 is not a valid BCD value cm
Depth Error: 4,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Artists Artist: Salvador Dalí
Accession number 2988 a-b (MK)
Credits Purchased with the support of Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rembrandt Association, Cultuurfonds, Erasmus Foundation, and Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, 1979
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1979
Creation date in 1936
Collector Collector / Edward James
Entitled parties © Salvador Dalí, Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2022
Provenance Alex Reid and Lefevre Gallery, London 1936; Edward James, Chichester 1936-64; Edward James Foundation, Chichester 1964-79; on loan to Brighton Museum and Art Gallery c. 1966-79
Exhibitions London 1936b; New York 1936; New York 1965; Rotterdam 1970-71; Paris 1979; Charleroi 1985; Brighton 1998; Liverpool/St Petersburg 1998-99; London/New York 2001-02; Barcelona/Madrid/St Petersburg 2004-05; Cologne 2006; Paris/Madrid 2012-13; Edinburgh/Hamburg/Rotterdam 2016-17
Internal exhibitions The Collection Enriched (2011)
Gek van surrealisme (2017)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
External exhibitions Dalí ontmoet Vermeer (2011)
Dalí (2012)
Surreal Encounters - Collecting the Marvellous (2016)
Dalí, Ernst, Miró, Magritte... (2016)
Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Dalì & Magritte (2019)
Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Surrealism. Highlights from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2023)
A Surreal Shock – Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
Only the Marvelous is Beautiful (2022)
A Surreal Shock. Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2023)
Surrealist Art - Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
Research Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Literature Rotterdam 1970, cat. no. 43; Dalí/Pauvert 1978, p. 83; Paris 1979, pp. 290-91, 276-77, fig. 222; Descharnes/Néret 1994, pp. 272-73; Finkelstein 1996, pp. 195-97; Descharnes 1997, p. 200; Brighton 1998, p. 60; Ades/Bradley 1998, p. 27, fig. 31; Venice/Philadelphia 2004-05, p. 256, fig. 3; Barcelona/Madrid/St Petersburg 2004-05, p. 81, fig. 74; Figueres 2004-present, no. 443; London/Rotterdam/Bilbao 2007-08, pp. 280-81, cat. no. 14; Rotterdam 2007, pp. 107-09; Paris/Madrid 2012-13, pp. 179, 172; Edinburgh 2016, pp. 22, 36, 205, 215, 246, cat. no. 34
Geographical origin Spain > Southern Europe > Europe

Entry catalogue A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen

Author: Marijke Peyser

Salvador Dalí, 'Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages', 1937, oil on panel, left figure: 92.5 x 72.5 cm, right figure: 90 x 70.5 cm. Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto

Although the title of Salvador Dalí’s diptych, Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages, does not explicitly refer to the artist and his muse Gala, the portraits do indeed feature the painter and his mistress. This is confirmed by the photographs that Cecil Beaton took of the works of art in the year Dalí and Gala posed behind the figures.[1]

The unusual shape Dalí gave each portrait corresponds to the upper parts of the bodies of the man and the woman in Jean-François Millet’s L’Angélus (1857-59). In the early 1930s Dalí made a number of works that literally cite L’Angélus or refer to it.[2] The artist believed that this work by Millet was ‘the most disturbing, the most enigmatic, the most layered, the richest work in terms of unconscious thoughts that was ever made’.[3] With due regard for his ‘paranoiac-critical method’ Dalí was inspired by this nineteenth-century painting. In the essays ‘L’âne pourri’ (1930) and ‘Interprétation paranoïaque-critique de l’image obsédante de L’Angélus de Millet’ (1933) Dalí explained that his method allowed him to analyse his own paranoid thoughts, to keep the obsessions and hallucinations that were caused by this illness under control and to use them in his creative work.[4] Instead of a simple farmer and his wife who cease their work in the twilight and recite the Ave Maria, Dalí saw the woman as a praying mantis getting ready to devour the man. Dalí saw the man, who according to him was trying to hide his erection with his hat, as her victim who was going to die.

Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages is also the title of another diptych that Dalí likewise painted in 1936.[5] These are probably two men and the work refers to the friendship between the poet Federico García Lorca and Dalí.[6] On 19 August 1936 Lorca was killed by the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War (July 1936 – April 1939). The loss of his childhood friend reminded Dalí of Lorca’s oft-expressed fear of death that led him to repeatedly act out informally, in Dalí’s presence, his death, burial and decomposition.[7] In the ‘Lorca period’, from 1925 to 1927, Dalí depicted Lorca’s head accompanied by, or linked to the shadow of the painter’s head.[8] In the diptych death has separated them. The depiction of the poet and the painter is similar to the description that Ian Gibson, an expert on the life and work of the two Spaniards, gave of the work: ‘Dali’s oval face and characteristic little stick-out ears, juxtaposed with Lorca’s broad head, the ears of which, also prominent, contrast, in their chunkiness, with the painter’s’.[9]



[1] Descharnes/Néret 2005, p. 272, no. 610.

[2] See for example L’Angélus (c. 1932), Le spectre de l’Angélus (c. 1934), L’Angélus architectonique de Millet (1933), Atavisme du crépuscule (1933/34), Les chants de Maldoror (1934), L’Angélus de Gala (1935), La Gare de Perpignan (1965), Aurore, midi, couchant et crépuscule (1979).

[3] Paris/Madrid 2012-13, p. 172.

[4] Paris 1979, vol. I, for ‘L’âne pourri’, see pp. 276-77; for ‘Interprétation paranoïaque-critique de l’image obsédante de L’Angélus de Millet’, see Minotaure, Revue artistique et littéraire, 1 (1933).

[5] See Descharnes/Néret 2005, p. 272, no. 612.

[6] See Venice/Philadelphia 2004-05, p. 256.

[7] Gibson 1997b, pp. 185-86.

[8] Gibson 1997a, p. 168; see for example Natura morta (Invitació a la son) (1926) and Nature morte au clair de lune (1926).

[9] Ibid., p. 172.

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