Painted in 1932, Untitled sat in a private art collection for more than three quarters of a century. Now, after a series of tests conducted by Salvador Dalí expert Nicolas Descharnes authenticated the artwork, it’s on view at Heather James Fine Art in New York.
Featuring a majority green and brown-hued color palette and Salvador Dalí’s signature brand of luminosity, Untitled depicts a long red pole—identified as a possible flagpole or boat mast—emerging from a small window amid a dilapidated wall. The pole casts a shadow on a patchwork spackle-job, while just above the window a parcel of brickwork is exposed. The immediate landscape is completely barren, showcasing gradients of increasing darkness as the eye draws downward.
“While the imagery’s symbolic significance is intentionally left unclear, the window alludes to the little house Dalí bought in Port Lligat, Spain, in 1930, and lived in with his wife Gala,” according to the announcement.
Nicolas Descharnes, who authenticated the painting last year through archival research alongside infrared photography and pigment analysis, told artnet News that the painting’s unusually sparse lower half strongly indicated that it was indeed by Dalí. “The forger wouldn’t leave the painting without anything on the ground, because the forger needs to make a painting that is attractive,” he said. In addition, Descharnes confirmed that the materials used were authentic to the period in which the piece would have been painted, and the stretcher was from Spain during Dalí’s time there.
“This is the first known painting in which Dalí reveals to the public the combination of two new recurring obsessions that appear in his work in 1932: a suspended mast, and a window on a wall shown from an outside perspective displaying the darkness of an interior,” said Descharnes. Both motifs show up again in Morphological Echo (1934–1936), which is housed within the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
It was in the 1930s that Dalí created some of his most recognizable artworks, from The Persistence of Memory (1931) to Lobster Telephone (1936) and Swans Reflecting Elephants (1937). Most of the artist’s work from this time is held in museum collections, the press release notes, so it’s something of a privilege for Heather James Fine Art to reintroduce the painting to the public and the market.
“We are delighted to have this rediscovered painting by Dalí on exhibit at our New York gallery,” said James Carona, founder of Heather James Fine Art. “It presents a unique opportunity to own an exceptional work with a distinguished provenance that has remained in private hands for over 75 years.”
Untitled is currently on view by appointment at Heather James Fine Art, 42 East 75th Street, New York, NY 10021.