With two large horns and a head without a face, this figure holds the queen at the end of their long, extended right arm while hiding another chess piece behind their back with their left. This strange depiction provokes feelings of high humor. For Ernst, sculpture was the most simple and primitive art form, and he began to experiment with anthropomorphism through the construction of various figures. As a Surrealist artist, Ernst’s creations permeated the boundaries of dreams and reality, of this world and nirvana, of daily life and illogicality. However, the overall impression is always one of tranquility. This bizarre image is both strange and adorable, born from Ernst’s playful spirit as he sought to give human form to chess pieces.
Can you find the child, horse, or snake mentioned in the title? The strange shape occupying the top portion of the picture plane is quickly recognizable as the horse. Tracing the outline of that shape, beneath the horse’s torso and as if supporting its chest we notice the hands of a human-like figure. If we look at that figure’s feet, there are three snakes of different sizes. As a whole, this is an extremely mystifying image. Considered individually, each of the painted motifs loses meaning. The painting surface utilizes grattage (a technique whereby rough objects are placed behind a thickly painted canvas so that the pigments on the front may be scraped off to reflect this uneven texture), which includes an element of the unpredictable. These unexpected results create diversity and tension on the surface of the picture, producing a fantastical realm.