"Quite a unique combination here! I love the Marx Brothers and Harpo is easily my favorite for his boundless imagination filled with kindness and the purity of musical beauty he brings to his performances. The fact that Dali drew him and signed this print to him is very special." -Blaise
Photomechanical print on paper, depicting Marx at his harp with a lobster and an apple on his head and a liver draped over the instrument in Surrealist fashion, inscribed and signed at lower right in pencil by Dalí, "Pour Harpo Marx son ami / Salvador Dalí." Contained in the original frame.
Framed: 17 x 21 in.; Within mat: 11 1/4 x 8 3/4 in. Provenance: Estate of Harpo Marx; Collection of William W. Marx, Rancho Mirage, California. The original pencil portrait of Marx from which this is reproduced was completed by Dalí in February, 1937, during the artist's visit to Hollywood; today it is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Please see image (not included with sale), showing Dali making the present portrait of Harpo.
The two men became friends in the 1930s when Dali sent Marx a gift of a harp with barbed wire strings and tuning knobs made of cutlery. They also collaborated on an unrealized film script entitled Giraffes on Horseback Salad. The artist wrote to André Breton of his visit to Los Angeles: "I've made contact with the three American surrealists: Harpo Marx, Disney, and Cecil B. DeMille. I believe I've intoxicated them suitably and hope that the possibilities for Surrealism here will become a reality."
The second-born of the Marx Brothers, Harpo was a unique comic performer whose style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions of a previous era. He was well known by his trademark big, poofy, curly hair, his top hat, and a horn and although he never talked during performances (although he often blew a horn or whistled to communicate), he frequently used props (such as a walking stick with a built-in bulb horn), and he played the harp. Many film buffs argue that the lovable mute was in fact the funniest of the Marx Brothers without ever saying a word. Harpo officially became a mime after a theater critic supposedly noted that he was brilliant…until his character spoke. Harpo never uttered another sound.