Paul Delvaux

L'Appel de la Nuit [The Call of the Night] (1938)

About this artwork

This is an early and important work in Delvaux's dream-landscape style. There is a deliberate conflict between the eroticism of the nudes and the uninviting setting into which they have been cast. Sexual fantasy collides with sexual anxiety in the strange and desolate landscape. The symbolism calls for interpretation but resists any. A skull and skeleton can be seen in the background, as well as groups of rocks which appear to be arranged in a prehistoric or symbolic manner. The rampant vegetation clinging to the languid nudes threatens to engulf them.

see media
  • title: L'Appel de la Nuit [The Call of the Night]
  • accession number: GMA 3884
  • artist: Paul DelvauxBelgian (1897 - 1994)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Nudity Surrealism
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1938
  • measurements: 110.00 x 145.00 cm
  • credit line: Purchased with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund 1995
  • copyright: © DACS 2016.
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Paul Delvaux

Paul Delvaux

The Belgian artist Delvaux studied architecture and painting in Brussels. He experimented with painting in an expressionist style but turned to Surrealism after seeing a surrealist exhibition in 1934. Delvaux was not a formal member of the surrealist movement and did not participate in group activities. However, he was well respected by the members of the group, including its leader André Breton. Delvaux's style changed little from the 1930s until his death in 1994. His characteristic works consist of nude or semi-nude women (similar or identical in appearance) in inappropriate or fantastical settings. Skeletons and trams are two of the recurring motifs in Delvaux's paintings.