Call it a surprise birthday present. A wax figure of Salvador Dalí, long thought to be lost, has supposedly been rediscovered.
The piece was unveiled to the public today, on the 118th anniversary of the surrealist master’s birth, by Harte International Galleries on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Completed in 1979, a decade before Dalí’s death, it depicts Jesus crucified above a nondescript body of water, and is loosely based on a 1951 painting by the artist. Both are mentioned Christ of St. John of the Cross†
The statue served as the model from which hundreds of platinum, gold, silver and bronze editions were made. However, experts assumed that the original wax carving – a much more fragile object – had been destroyed.
“Harte International Galleries has some of the Christ of St. John of the Cross bas-relief sculptures throughout our history, but no one thought the original work — done by a senior Dalí in wax — still existed,” the galleries’ co-owner Glenn Harte said in a statement.
The statue, it turns out, has only been in storage. For the last four decades it has been housed in a private collector’s vault near Dali. The piece was even kept in the original plexiglass casing the artist designed for it.
Harte and his team were in touch with the collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, about purchasing an art book when they learned of the statue’s existence late last year. They bought the work, gave it the title was lost, and now plan to exhibit it for the first time since Dalí himself was alive.
As for its value, the gallery has appraised the piece at $10-20 million, although a representative said it’s not for sale. Such an appreciation, of course, implies that the image is legitimate. And according to Nicolas Descharnes, a Dalí expert who engaged the gallery, it is.
Descharnes – the son of Dalí’s longtime secretary – verified the piece after consulting with Carlos Evaristo, an iconography expert.
“After the discovery of the was lostmet Harte Galleries Descharnes and Evaristo in Avila, Spain, where St. John of Spain, a 14th-cEntury monk, was inspired to make the first impression of Christ on the cross from a heavenly view,” Harte recalls.
“Evaristo was passionate that the sculpture was a three-dimensional representation of the evolution of Christ’s crucifixion, and therefore was given the same name as the most important religious work ever created by Dalí, Christ of St. John of the Crosswhich was painted in 1951, 28 years before the image was formed,” Harte said.
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