Sunday Dalí: Imperial Violets, 1938. Oil on canvas, 39 ⅜ x 56 ⅛ inches. Private collection.
Dalí said the title came from a French film, Violettes impériales, which he saw with Coco Chanel at her winter home in Roquebrune, Cap Martin. (The home is for sale, believe it or not.) It is not believed that anything except the title and Henry Russell’s erie greenish tone for scenes at night are represented in Dalí’s work. Dalí’s work was complete at the point of the viewing.
Dalí’s black telephones of the WWII era represent the communication breakdown and impending destruction between Prime Minister Chamberlain and Führer Hitler. The partially eaten grilled sardines represent Spain’s role in the upcoming conflict. The man and child in the background represent a false-memory of Dalí’s father dragging Salvador to school. These elements can be read as the various levels of Dalí’s consciousness during the period. The child and father, as well as the white house, which resembles the Dalí family home are personal; the sardines are Spain, and the telephone is Europe.