Sotheby’s has two Salvador Dalí works for the Surrealism sale in London later this month. The works come from the family of Tota Cuevas de Vera, a wealthy Argentine who married Spanish Count (her sister married a French Marquis.) Through a family friend, the Chilean silver heiress Eugenia Errázuriz, Tota befriended Salvador Dalí along with a bevy or other European artists like Picasso, Cocteau, Giacometti, Max Ernst, Le Corbusier, Man Ray and other masters of the lively arts in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, including the film-maker Luis Buñuel.
The two paintings have never been auctioned before having been in the family for decades and kept mostly unseen. One was shown in the 1930s and the other in the 1980s, each are being offered with an estimate of £1.2 – 1.8 million.
Gradiva from 1931 depicts a mythological figure, the character from Wilhelm Jensen’s 1903 novel – capturing the essence of the Surrealist paradigm. In the novel, a young archaeologist becomes obsessed with a female figure depicted in a Roman bas-relief to the point in which he falls in love with her and imagines her as real. Subsequently examined by Freud as a study of the idealisation of beauty and notions of projected and real love, the subject of Gradiva has provided the basis for seminal texts of psychoanalysis and postmodern philosophy. Dalí adopted the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife Gala.
Maison pour érotomane, 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 imag.