About the Artwork

Dorothea Tanning's Birthday is an announcement, a self-portrait hailing the arrival of an artist who emerged into the public eye with a fully formulated vision and an exquisitely flawless technique. Then thirty-two years old, Tanning was working as a freelance illustrator for Manhattan department stores while pursuing her own erotically charged, dreamlike paintings in her Greenwich Village apartment, after her imagination had been stimulated by the 1936 exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art. According to Tanning, Birthday was titled by her future husband, the Surrealist artist Max Ernst, who encountered it on her easel while scouting for works for gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim's upcoming exhibition of thirty-one women artists. Although the painting presents an astonishing likeness of the artist, the portrayal does far more to create a character than to reveal a preexisting one. The woman's ruffled purple brocade jacket, opened to reveal her bare chest, tops a skirt of long green tendrils, which, upon scrutiny, assume the form of writhing human bodies. She is attended by a familiar, a fantastic furry creature with wings and a long tail, ready to accompany her on the adventures that lie beyond the infinitely receding doors.
Michael R. Taylor, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 216.

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About Our Products


This Art on Demand Store is your exclusive source for reproductions authorized and available for purchase directly from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. All items that are offered are produced using gallery quality materials and the color is managed in a manner that produces a reproduction as true to the original as technology will allow.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering so make sure to come back and see the new releases.


You have found the work that speaks to you. Now what? Using our innovative custom framing tool you can preview exactly what your finished and framed art will look like. We offer many different moulding styles so there is sure to be a match for any type of decor.

Member Discounts

As always, members will receive their discount for all transactions processed through our Art on Demand Store. Simply enter your member id during the checkout process and your discount will be applied.