Max Ernst

Max Ernst montrant à une jeune fille la tête de son père [Max Ernst Showing a Young Girl the Head of his Father] (1926 or 1927)

About this artwork

This large work was painted while Ernst was working with the surrealist group in Paris, and seems to highlight his oedipal conflicts with his father - the Surrealists were fascinated with psychology and the theories of Sigmund Freud. The 'young girl' may be the artist's dead sister, in which case an incestuous triangle of father, son and daughter is implied. Ernst used a technique that he invented, called 'grattage' to create the forest. This involves the painted canvas being laid over a rough wooden surface and scraped to produce a rich, grainy texture. The large ring in the background represents the sun.

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  • title: Max Ernst montrant à une jeune fille la tête de son père [Max Ernst Showing a Young Girl the Head of his Father]
  • accession number: GMA 3972
  • artist: Max ErnstAmerican (1891 - 1976)
  • depicted: Max Ernst
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Families Nudity Surrealism
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1926 or 1927
  • measurements: 114.30 x 146.80 cm (framed: 133.30 x 166.00 x 8.00 cm)
  • credit line: Accepted in lieu of tax and allocated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 1998
  • copyright: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016.
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Max Ernst

Max Ernst

German-French painter Ernst was born near Cologne in Germany. After studying philosophy at university he turned his attention to art, and became the leader of the Cologne Dada group in 1919. He moved to Paris in 1922 to work with the Surrealists, adapting the techniques of collage and photomontage for use by the group. He worked in a range of media throughout his artistic career, producing work that was irregular, experimental and highly imaginative. The Gallery has an excellent collection of his work, including eleven paintings and collages as well as drawings, prints and illustrated books.