$200 Antique Shop Find Identified as Salvador Dalí’s First Surrealist Work

He painted the work when he was still a teenager.

Salvador Dalí, The Intrautirine Birth of Salvador Dalí (1921).

After 25 years, an oil painting purchased for about $200 at a Spanish antique shop has been authenticated as an early Surrealist work by a teenage Salvador Dalí, reports Agence France-Presse.

Painter and art historian Tomeu L’Amo, who purchased the canvas, titled The Intrautirine Birth of Salvador Dalí, in 1988, always suspected that it might be by Dalí. Now, the experts have confirmed his hunch.

“I was very happy. I felt like a kid in a candy store,” he said in a news conference announcing the discovery. (Despite the work’s new attribution, it has yet to be accepted into the artist’s official canon by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.)

The painting was initially dismissed as the work of an unknown artist because a signature dates the piece to 1896, eight years before the artist was born. Ten years of scientific testing have dated the painting to 1921, when Dalí would have been 17, and identified underlying black and blue pencil marks, one of his commonly utilized techniques.

Handwriting analysis also found the canvas’s inscription, “To My Dear Teacher on the day of his birth,” to match known samples of Dalí’s writing from the 1920s. Tests showed that a spelling mistake he often made had been corrected.

The misleading 1896 date may be a reference to the conception of the artist’s namesake, his older brother, who died nine months before Dalí was born. The artist was once quoted as saying “very young I composed a piece on angels,” further bolstering the case for the piece’s authentication.

While the Surrealist movement didn’t officially kick off until 1924, the term was already in use at the time of the painting’s conception. According to Nicolas Descharnes, an expert on the artist who spoke to the AFP, “The painting can be considered the first Surrealist work of Dalí.”

L’Amo has already sold the piece to an anonymous collector for an undisclosed price.

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