The £10m silver lining: Salvador Dali’s ‘heads full of clouds’ painting is expected to fetch a fortune when it goes under the hammer
He was the master of surrealism famed for his dream-like imagery.
Now one of Salvador Dali’s paintings is going on public sale for the first time in a dream come true for wealthy art collectors.
The diptych – an artwork in two pieces – shows the Spanish artist and his wife Gala as silhouettes with their heads full of clouds.
It is set to fetch up to £10million at a Bonhams auction in London on Thursday.
Dali painted ‘Couple With Heads Full Of Clouds’ in 1937 while he was at the height of his powers during the Spanish Civil War
Dali, who died aged 84 in 1989, painted ‘Couple With Heads Full Of Clouds’ in 1937 while he was at the height of his powers during the Spanish Civil War.
India Knight, of Bonhams, said Gala – ten years Dali’s senior – was the painter’s ‘muse’.
She said: ‘Such was Dalí’s adoration for his partner and muse that he signed many of his most significant works, including this one, ‘Gala Salvador Dalí’.
She added of the painting: ‘It’s very likely that it is Dali imagining himself next to Gala.’
It features a desert landscape across two separate panels – in the shape of human silhouettes – that appears to merge into a single larger painting.
The diptych shows the Spanish artist and his wife Gala as silhouettes with their heads full of clouds
The detail includes some of Dali’s most famous images such as the girl skipping, which he used to symbolise childhood memories, and the burning giraffe, which he said represented ‘the masculine cosmic apocalyptic monster’ – meaning a premonition of war.
It is also one of only two diptychs – or paintings made of two parts – produced by Dali. He produced the other the year before and ‘they’re the rarest of objects’, said Ms Knight.
The work was formerly part of the collection of the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988).
It is thought he acquired it from the surrealist poet Paul Éluard, who was Gala’s first husband and introduced her to Dali.
Dali is thought originally to have given it to Éluard.
It is being offered from the collection of the Fondazione Isabella Scelsi, the foundation of the descendants of Scelsi.
He was associated with the Surrealist circle from his time as a music student in Paris in the 1920s.
In 2011, Sotheby’s in London achieved the auction record for a work by Dalí with when his painting Portrait de Paul Éluard (1929) sold for £13.5m.
That had been valued at £3.5 million to £5 million before the auction, but the eventual price tripled the artist’s previous auction record – and was also a new auction record for any surrealist work of art.