5 most expensive Salvador Dali paintings
The 1929 Portrait de Paul Eluard depicts Paul Eluard, a French Surrealist poet whom Dali met in 1929, around the time when he was staying in Paris assisting Luis Buñuel with the filming of Un Chien Andalou. During that summer, Dali invited many Surrealists that he met to visit him in Cadaqués. His guests included Eluard, with his wife, Gala and daughter, Luis Buñuel and René Magritte and his wife.
During Eluard’s visits, Dali fell in love with Gala who would become his life-long companion and muse. At the end of her stay, Dali returned to his studio and completed Portrait de Paul Eluard which the writer had been sitting for.
The painting was sold at a Sotheby’s sale in London in February 2011. Not only is it the most expensive Dali work, it is also the most expensive Surrealist painting ever sold at auction.
2) Etude pour 'Le miel est plus doux que le sang' - £4,073,250
Etude pour 'Le miel est plus doux que le sang' (or Study for Honey is Sweeter than blood) is one Dali’s first Surrealist paintings. It is a fully completed study for the now lost painting Honey is Sweeter than Blood which is believed to have been destroyed.
The painting show a beach scene, reminiscent of some other Dali works, strewn with rotting donkeys, sleeping heads, decapitated corpses, needles, and levitating breasts.
It was painted when Dali was 23 years-old and had newly discovered the creative potential in Surrealism. Alongside Apparatus and Hand, Dali chose Honey is Sweeter than Blood to represent his new artistic direction at the 1927 Autumn Salon in Barcelona, where their disturbing imagery was considered outrageous by many.
In February 2011, the piece sold for £4,073,250 at a Christie’s sale in London.
3) Spectre du soir sur la plage - $5,682,500
Night Spectre on the Beach, as it is known in English, was painted in 1935 and depicts far away figures on a desolate beach. It is believed that the beach shown is at Rosas on the Costa Brava, a place where Dali spent many summers as a child. The beach has featured as a setting in other Dali paintings, including Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, which was painted one year after Night Spectre on the Beach.
The painting was sold for $5,682,500 at a Sotheby’s, New York auction in May 2010.
4) Ma femme nue regardant son propre corps devenir marches, trois vertebres d'une colonne, ciel et architecture - £2,863,500
My Wife, Naked Looking at her own Body,which is Transformed into Steps, Three Vertebrae of a Column, Sky and Architecture is a 1945 painting depicting Dali’s wife, Gala, sitting naked with her back to the viewer. To the left of Gala is a classical head affixed to a wall. Beneath the head is a dandelion, a symbol of Dali’s love for Gala. In the painting, Gala is staring out at an architectural structure in the shape of her body.
The portrait comes from a time in Dali’s life when he was living in New York and claimed to have discovered ‘the real way to paint’ for the first time in his life. He moved to New York during the onset of World War II as Gala was Jewish and Dali himself would have struggled with any kind of totalitarian regime.
The painting sold for £2,863,500 at a Sotheby’s auction in London in December 2000.
5) Nu dans la plaine de Rosas - $4,002,500
This work was painted in 1942, when Dali was living in America, having left Europe in 1940, during the onset of World War II.
In 1942, Dali was commissioned by Helena Rubinstein, who had known the artist since the early 1930s, to decorate the dining room of her Park Avenue apartment. Dali completed three murals which represented the morning, afternoon and night.
Nu dans la plaine de Rosas (En: Nude on the Plain of Rosas) was painted in conjunction with those three murals. It shows a nude figure, seen from behind, lying on one side. She looks out from a portico across a flat landscape, seeing her hero’s image fading away, with only a sandaled foot still visable.
The painting was sold for $4,002,500 at a Christie’s, New York auction in November 2009.