Two rediscovered Dalí paintings up for sale for first time

Two rediscovered masterpieces by Salvador Dalí will go under the hammer for the first time later this month.

Two rediscovered Dalí paintings up for sale for first time
Salvador Dali's, Maison pour Erotomane. Photo: Sotheby's

Both works were sold directly to an Argentine noblewoman, the Countess de Cuevas de Vera by the artist in the 1930s and have remained in the family’s private collection ever since.

But now the pair are to be sold at auction by London’s Sotheby’s in the Surrealist Art Evening Sale on February 28th.

Tota Cueva de Vera on the porch of her home. Photo: John Phillips / Sotheby's

The Countess, known to all as Tota, divided her time between Argentina and Europe became a great friend and patron to the artists of the day including Dali, Picasso, Cocteau, Giacometti, Max Ernst, Le Corbusier, Man Ray as well as the Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

The two artworks that are offered on sale are characteristic of Dalís early Surrealist style.

Salvador Dalí's Gradiva, 1931. Photo: Sotheby's

“Painted in 1931, Gradiva is a jewel-like composition that unites Dalí’s unique painterly vision with the technical virtuosity characteristic of his early Surrealist art,” explains the Sotherby’s catalogue.

“Maison pour érotomane (circa 1932)  also dates from the height of Dalí’s Surrealism and depicts a Catalan landscape, its rocks metamorphosing in front of the view’s eyes into a fantastical, dream-like image, dominated by two entities.

Salvador Dali's, Maison pour Erotomane. Photo: Sotheby's

“The one on the left appears to be a horse rising from the ground, its extremities seeming to transform into a cello and a car. Two spear-like shapes penetrate the form on the right, which in turn appears to be an intangible, yet somewhat anthropomorphic rock. It was such hallucinatory compositions, giving a visual manifestation to the realm of the subconscious, that so impressed Sigmund Freud, who first met the artist in 1939.”

Both have an estimated guide price of  £1,200,000-1,800,000.


Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.