Ladies with pearls and handbags, and often, as in this case, with aristocratic names, appear in Baj's work at the same time as the 'Generals'. André Breton considered them well matched:
The general's female companion obviously presents a rather subtler moving target. The splendid harangue announcing a 'guignol' show which starts off something like 'I, General Bludgeon … 'does not invariably include equally fervent publicity - heart-breaking at this stage rather than skull-breaking — in praise of his legitimate spouse' accomplishments and virtues. Even so, the attributes of femininity grant a partial immunity to this heroine of kockabout farce.1
Elisabeta de Bragance de la Felidad Garcia was a member of the royal family that ruled Portugal from 1640 to 1910. 'Often in the past,' Baj has written, 'I have ascribed to my characters the noble names and titles of historic characters, which I have found in the pages of the Grand Larousse Encyclopédique or from other encyclopedias. It was a means of historicising my work and at the same time negating history'.2
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.310.
- André Breton, Le Surréalisme et la Peinture, Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1965, p.400.
- Enrico Baj, correspondence with the Gallery, 6 May 1986.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010