A painting purchased in an antique shop more than 20 years ago, for the princely sum of 150 euros has been identified as the first Surrealist work of the great Salvador Dali.
Experts believe The Intrautirine Birth of Salvador Dali painted by the artist as a teenager in 1921.
Tomeu L’Amo, a painter and art historian, found the canvas at a store in Girona in northeastern Spain in 1988 and suspecting it was a work by Dali he paid 25,000 pesetas, Spain’s currency at the time, for it.
“I was very happy. I felt like a kid in a candy store,” he said in a news conference in Madrid. “When I saw its colours I suspected it was a Dali. That was my opinion but I did not have proof. I investigated and little by little I realised it was a Dali.”
The painting was dismissed for years as the work of an unknown artist because the signature includes the date 1896 — eight years before Dali was born. But after subjecting the painting to the latest high-tech tests — including infrared photography, X-rays and ultraviolet radiation — between 2004 and 2013 art experts have concluded that it is indeed the work of Dali and was made around 1921 when he was 17-years-old.
Handwriting analysis also concluded that the script used in the dedication in the lower right part of the painting corresponds with Dali’s writing style at the time.
“Writing samples from the dedication and signature coincide with the handwriting and signature which the artist had in the 1920s,” said Jose Pedro Venzal a handwriting analyst who was worked for global police body Interpol. He added that the dedication, which was written in Catalan, also contained a common spelling mistake made by Dali which was corrected so that it is not visible to the naked eye.
Experts also cited as evidence that the painting was made by Dali the fact that he is quoted as saying: “Very young I composed a piece on angels.”
L’Amo said he sold the work earlier this month for an amount which he refused to reveal to a collector who wishes to remain anonymous. L’Amo believes Dali, who had a reputation for making outrageous claims and carrying out media stunts, used numerology to come up with date he put on the painting.
“Dali must be laughing in his grave at the thought that he managed to fool everyone for so many years,” he said.