From an early age, Brauner was fascinated by the occult, alchemy, magic, and the tarot; his father was an avid spiritualist, and young Brauner was witness to many séances during his childhood in Romania. His interest in the subconscious was stoked in the 1930s when he settled in Paris in the same building as Alberto Giacometti, and became an active member of the city's Surrealist circle. At the outbreak of war, Brauner fled to the South of France, and continued to make work using only the most meager means. Sidney Janis, art dealer and former owner of this work, said Brauner "told me that he had painted these pictures in tallow from the candles that he was supplied when he was in the Resistance. He was underground and instead of burning his candles he used it as artistic material."
Gallery label from Soldier, Spectre, Shaman: The Figure and the Second World War, October 24, 2015-March 20, 2016.