The Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dalí has a record-breaking week at London auction houses

At an auction this week at the Sotheby Art Auction House in London, a Salvador Dalí painting was sold for no less than 16 million euros setting a world record for the Catalan artist and for any Surrealist work of art in the world.

CNA / Laura Pous

February 11, 2011 11:20 PM

London (ACN) .- The Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dalí set a world record this week in London for selling the most expensive Surrealist painting in the world. The Dalí painting, 'Portrait de Paul Eluard' was sold for the second highest price of the auction. According to an expert from the Sotheby Art Auction House in London, “Portrait de Paul Eluad’ is the most important portrait ever painted by Dalí”. That is why although it is estimated to be worth about 7 million euro, it was auctioned on Thursday night for an outstanding amount of money – 15,953,710 euro to be exact. 'Portrait de Paul Eluard' was part of a private collection and was put up for sale this week at the Sotheby Art Auction House in London along side masterpieces from other painters like Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. It was a sell-out auction.

Portrait de Paul Eluard

The Catalan News Agency caught up with an expert from the Sotheby Art Auction House in London this week to talk about the painting ‘Portrait de Paul Eluad’ in more detail. The director of Impressionism and Modern Art and the Sotheby’s Auction House Sammuel Valette said that “the painting is absolutely superb and definitely one of the most important paintings ever made by a surrealist painter”. “It illustrates the encounter between two leaders of the surrealist movement”. The masterpiece was painted back in 1929. It portrays the French poet Paul Eluard, one of the pivotal figures of the surrealist movement. The Catalan painter met Paul Eluard and his wife Gala while he was staying in Paris in 1929. This encounter had a major bearing on the development of the young painter's artistic and private life as after this meeting in Paris, Dalí invited the couple to spend the summer in Barcelona with him where he ended up falling in love with Gala, Paul Eluard's wife. “It is an incredible story”, says Sammuel Valette. So much so, Gala, who was to become his future muse left Eluard for the painter from Figueres in Catalonia. The painting was inherited by Paul Eluard's daughter who sold it in 1999. But this week in London on Thursday Salvador Dalí broke a world record for selling a surrealist painting for 15,953,710 euros.

‘Honey is sweeter than blood’

Another celebrated painting by Salvador Dali called 'Honey is sweeter than blood' that was painted in 1927 was sold this week at the Christie's Fine Art Gallery for 4.7 million euros. On Wednesday night, the private cultural institution the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation bought the painting 'Honey is sweeter than blood' for a record amount of 4.7 million euros. As the highest bidder on Wednesday night, the Catalan Foundation is now the owner of one of the first ever surrealist works of Dalí. At a price of 4,794,215 euros, it was the most expensive Dali painting ever bought before Thursday's sale of 'Portrait de Paul Eluad' for 16 million euros. The amount paid for the preparatory study of the Salvador Dalí painting was the highest of the night, after the painting, 'The Aimant' by the Belgian surrealist artist Renée Magritte. Christie's Fine Art Gallery had great works of art on sale this week from Impressionism to modern art, as well numerous surreal compositions.

The painting 'Honey is sweeter than blood' was created back in 1927. Maria Garcia Yelo, the director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Christie's Fine Art Gallery in London told the Catalan News Agency this week that the painting was premature, almost 'pre-Dalí' or 'pre-Dalí-surreal'. She exclaimed how incredible it was considering it was painted back in 1927, when Dalí had not yet even entered the world of surrealism in Paris.

According to García Yelo, the preparatory work of 'Honey is sweeter than blood' is a box full of “ideas, concepts and iconography that he developed more throughout his career”. "Dalí was a very precise painter”, she says, “even his preparatory work is very refined with so much attention to detail”. 'Honey is sweeter than blood' illustrates the relationship that the Catalan painter had with Pepin Bello and Federico García Lorca. The celebrated Catalan painting will come back to Catalonia and be exhibited by the Gala-Salvador-Dalí Foundation in one of its museums.

More Catalan artists

Salvador Dalí was not the only Catalan painter on show at the auction this week at Christie's Fine Art Gallery in London. Paintings of the late period of the Catalan painter Joan Miró were also up for bidding. They were sold for between 355,000 euros and 2 million.

In total, the sales of Surrealist paintings valued at 27.5 million this week. Among others sold were pieces from Óscar Domínguez, Roberto Matta, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst and René Magritte. Magrittes' 'The aimant' (1941) was the most expensive painting of the night sold for 5.6 million.

Renowned Impressionist artists’ paintings from Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin were also for sale in what was a very successful week in the name of art.