Founded in 1907, Lowy is recognized as the country's leading fine art services firm.

Reframing of a Surrealist Masterpiece

October 15, 2020

3 minute read

Surrealist Masterpiece
Salvador Dali Ballerine en tête de mort, c. 1939 Oil on canvas 9 ⅝ x 7 ⅝”


Lowy recently collaborated with Jonathan Boos Gallery to re-frame it in an antique 17th century ebonized Spanish plate frame for this surrealist masterpiece by Salvador Dali. 

“Working with the team at Lowy is always great fun….they are masters at finding the perfect frame for a perfect picture.”  -Jonathan Boos

The selected frame possesses a roughly textured painted panel, a finish that is worn and distressed with age, and retains its original 17th century iron hanging hardware. It has a stark, but powerful presence which complements the macabre subject of the painting: a ballerina and skull painted at the height of Dali’s most productive period demonstrating his paranoiac-critical technique.

The black plate frame was common throughout Spain and central Italy in the second half of the Seventeenth century. The use of the ebonized finish can be traced to the influence of Dutch and Flemish frames which were often made of ebony or ebonized in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.This frame design can be seen on paintings by important seventeenth century Spanish artists such as Zurbaran, Valazquez, El Greco, and Murillo and reflected an aesthetic of somber austerity used in the collection of the Habsburg court. Simple black frames were depicted in the background of Velazquez’s masterpiece, “Las Meninas”. The unembellished molding and overall austerity of this style of frame was revived and used widely in the early 20th century. It can be seen on works by modern artists such as Picasso, Braque, and Rouault.  

Larry Shar with Dali and manager Enrique Sabater


Salvador Dali spent a great deal of time in New York City. He had a studio and lived at the St. Regis hotel on and off for many years with his wife, Gala and pet ocelot, Babou. His gallery, Knoedler, on east 70th street introduced him to Lowy in the early 1970’s and he struck up a friendship with Larry Shar and Lowy chief conservator, Joe Battaglia. Larry Shar and Dali frequently lunched at the Laurent Restaurant in the Lombardy hotel  on East 56th street. Dali visited Lowy whenever he was in New York and he loved searching through the Lowy frame bins for flamboyant 17th century Spanish frames to use on his work. He would occasionally even buy frames with no painting in mind to keep for future use. He also loved Lowy conservator Joe Battaglia and came to him with any conservation or technical issues that he had with his paintings.


Lowy has over 400 antique Spanish frames in its collection ranging from 16th century Italian cassetta style frames to 17th and 18th century austere black frames, colorful polychrome provincial designs, and elaborately carved and gilded Baroque frames.

View our other surrealist framing work on this gorgeous Barili painting.