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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

L-R: Dalí, Madonne, first or second state; Dalí, Madonne, final version, Photo: Dalí Museum; Raphael, The Sistine Madonna, Photo: The Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany

L-R: Dalí, Madonne, first or second state; Dalí, Madonne, final version, Photo: Dalí Museum; Raphael, The Sistine Madonna, Photo: The Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 40. The Case of the Developing Dalí

The promotional activities of unscrupulous and uninformed art dealers and their associates when it comes to selling “authentic” graphic works of Salvador Dalí have been well documented. So have the ethically questionable activities of Dalí himself in promoting his brand and celebrity. Art historians and investigative journalists have long suggested that Dalí, especially in his later years, signed – whether knowingly or unknowingly – blank sheets of paper, effectively giving control to others of imagery purporting to be his.

Several weeks ago, I was asked to appraise a lithograph for purposes of donation. The artwork was signed and dated “Dalí 1957” in the plate, editioned and numbered “210/300” in pencil outside the image, and signed “Dalí” in pencil outside the image lower right. My client indicated that he and his wife had purchased the item while on their honeymoon in Vienna, Austria, in the mid-1980s.

The image appears to be based on an oil painting by Raphael, entitled The Sistine Madonna, and is the same painting from which those two annoyingly adorable putti have so often been appropriated and reproduced on everything from coffee cups to mouse pads.

The lithograph that my client purchased is not found in the official catalogue raisonné of Dalí’s graphic work and is probably a first or second state of a lithograph known as Madonne, from a series of 12 lithographs reproduced in the book Don Quichotte de la Mancha by Cervantes.

Since this is a first or second state of the finished lithograph, this piece is, I believe, considered unfinished and is not part of the official edition. The lower part of the image does not exhibit imagery depicted in the final version. If we look closely, we can see that the circular billowing motifs in the lower part of the image do not similarly appear as in the final version. This suggests that the image was further reworked, which is a process typical in the making of lithographs. The colour in the two versions is also very different.

The question arises as to the nature of the Dalí graphic my client was led to believe he was purchasing. Generally speaking, artists do not sign, edition and number first or second states of their work because these are interim states of the final product. Typically, these pieces are destroyed to ensure the aesthetic autonomy of the final edition, after the edition has been printed.

So, while the lithograph in question has all the signatures and edition and printing numbers required to give it the appearance of authenticity and legitimacy, it does not have the official seal of approval, usually achieved by inclusion in the official catalogue raisonné.

The possible scenarios leading to the production of a signed, editioned and numbered first- or second-state lithograph are the subject of conjecture and speculation – as are the reasons for its sale as a recognized Dalí work.

Next: The Case of the Irish Surrealist

 Fri, Feb 7, 2014