British-born Conroy Maddox travelled to Paris in the late 1930s where he came to know the artists and poets of the Surrealist group. This painting was inspired by an arcade in Paris which had been the subject of a long essay by the Surrealist writer Louis Aragon. Maddox later wrote, 'Aragon points out that his wanderings around the Passage de l'Opéra were without purpose, yet he waited for something to happen, something strange or abnormal, so as to permit him a glimpse of a
new order of things. Such experiences ... were conducive to Surrealism's attraction to the marvellous.' Maddox painted this scene from memory in England, and based the lion on a sculpture at Montparnasse cemetery.