It was considered a “lost painting”. The Dali Museums catalogue only mentioned briefly ‘Retrat de perfil (La germana Anna Maria)’, a portrait of the artist’s sister painted in 1925. They didn’t know where it was. Until now. The painting comes on the art market for the first time, leading Bonhams’ Impressionist and Modern Art sale on Thursday 2 March in London with a guide estimate of €942,000-€1,413,000. The work was painted in 1925 and was only exhibited once, that same year, at the Barcelona Sala Dalmau. That was Dali’s first solo exhibition there, and ‘Figura de perfil’ was shown with 17 other paintings. Dali later gave this one to his sister, before their relationship deteriorated.

The Director of the Dali Museums, Montse Aguer, explained to the CNA that they had not much information on this piece of art, so now the auction will allow them to get more details. However, she did not say whether or not they will participate in the sale in order to bring the painting back to Catalonia. “For our foundation any Dali work is important, but we already have a lot of paintings from his first phase”, she said.

The painting combines two of Dali’s favourite subjects in his early works: his sister Anna Maria and the coastline of Cadaqués. Dali and his sister had a complicated relationship. However, in the 1920s, the artist painted a lot of portraits of her, usually next to a window. The relationship between the siblings disintegrated after Dali published his autobiography, in 1942.

The painting to be auctioned has been kept out of public view for almost a century. Dali’s sister, Anna Maria, gave it to the family of the present owners, and it now comes on the market. According to Montse Aguer, the work had not been seen since 1929.

When he painted ‘Figura de perfil’, Dali was on the verge of entering his famous Surrealist phase. “What makes this work so remarkable is its sheer rarity, only a handful of works from this period exist outside public collections”, said India Phillips, Bonhams’ Head of Impressionist & Modern Art. “Dali was a very deliberate painter during the 1920s, choosing his subjects carefully and working in a meticulous fashion. This work was created at the very genesis of his leap into Surrealism. Laden with meaning and utterly enigmatic, it is one of the most beautiful works I have had the pleasure of handling”, she added.

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