Max Ernst

Le Grand amoureux I [The Great Lover I] (1926)

About this artwork

The precise meanings of many of Ernst’s paintings are intentionally obscure. He was far more interested in poetic suggestion, mystery and ambiguity than in literal interpretations. This painting relates to another work called ‘The Inquisitor: at 7.07am Justice Shall be Done’. A comparison between the two paintings shows that the bowler-hatted man is holding a female figure, whose breasts are clearly visible, but whose head has developed into a curved shape. While the man emerges out of an imposing block-like structure, the small female shape he gently holds resembles a metronome. On the left of the painting, Ernst has used the technique of grattage to create texture.

see media
  • title: Le Grand amoureux I [The Great Lover I]
  • accession number: GMA 2134
  • artist: Max ErnstAmerican (1891 - 1976)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Surrealism
  • materials: Oil and black crayon on canvas
  • date created: 1926
  • measurements: 100.30 x 81.20 cm (framed: 111.20 x 91.20 x 6.00 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1980
  • 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.