Dalí self-portrait created for 'intimate friend' Federico Garcia Lorca smashes pre-sale estimate

Impressionist and Modern Art including The Goldberg Collection
30 Oct 2012
London, Knightsbridge

Max Ernst's stunning painting of planets also exceeds estimate, selling for £67,250

An unusual and personal self-portrait by subversive surrealist Salvador Dalí sold for £43,250 at Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art sale at Knightsbridge yesterday, 30th October, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £5,000 - 7,000.

Bidders competed in a packed saleroom for the 'Autoportrait, dédié à Federico García Lorca', an intimate drawing of the great artist, created in 1928. It was among 61 lots which in total exceeded £445,000 with over 89 per cent sold by value.

The portrait, drawn in black ink on the back of an invoice, reveals the intense relationship that existed between Dalí and the great writer. Lorca was passionately in love with the artist and expressed his feelings in 'Oda a Salvador Dalí' two years before the drawing was created.

Lorca was one of the most significant European writers of the 20th century and the best known Spanish literary figure since Cervantes. The successful young Spaniards developed a close friendship in the 1920s and although Dalí claims to have rejected Lorca's amorous advances, the two were inseparable until the artist met his future wife Gala. The portrait shows how close the two young men became at this time.

The complicated nature of the men's friendship was further compounded by Dalí's fondness for shocking people. When he was questioned about Lorca's death by firing squad during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Dalí controversially commented that "it satisfied me deeply".

Other works by leading modern artists in the sale also far exceeded their pre-sale estimates. The top lot in the sale was 'Violette sonne' a stunning painting by Max Ernst, which sold for £67,250 against an estimate of £20,000 - 30,000. It was one of a series of paintings of the sun and planets made by Ernst in the early 1960s in which he moved towards cosmic themes and explored colour theory. Other highlights included 'Composition' by Fernand Léger, which made £56,450 against a pre-sale estimate of £20,000 - 30,000, Dalí's 'La vierge et le rhinoceros' which sold for £31,250, well above its pre-sale estimate of £15,000 - 20,000 and Gustav Klimt's intimate drawings of women, which sold for £22,500 and £12,500.

Ruth Graham, Specialist in the Impressionist department commented: "Dalí continues to interest and excite buyers by his striking and personal works. The self-portrait offered in this sale has such a fascinating background, which makes the piece all the more desirable. The sale drew buyers from around the world and bidders fiercely competed for the top lots. We're looking forward to our next sale taking place in our Bond Street saleroom in February."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

  1. Ruth Woodbridge
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