Salvador Dalí

Alchimie des Philosophes – Le Phenix (The Phoenix)

c1975
lithograph on parchment
Inventory number 842
Alchemy is an ancient philosophical tradition, associated with purification. It is believed that alchemists sought to purify base materials into gold whilst practicing spiritual exercises to purify the human soul to reach perfection. 

Dalí created 275 copies of the artist book Alchimie des Philosophes, each containing 10 artworks representing distinct alchemical themes.  

The stages of alchemy are represented by different bird species by alchemists, with the phoenix signifying the final stage of transformation. Dalí’s Le Phenix artwork shows a phoenix head on a nude female form, engulfed in fire. Fire is used in alchemy for the process of conversion and its appearance in the image indicates the coming together of the woman, and the male form that appears in the window located at the groin of the female form.