• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2047

    Impressionist and Modern Art Works on Paper

    7 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 609

    Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

    Bullfight #3

    Price Realised  


    Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
    Bullfight #3
    signed and dated 'Dalí 1965' (lower left)
    gouache, brush and pen and India ink on paper
    19 5/8 x 25½ in. (49.8 x 64.8 cm.)
    Executed in 1965

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Robert and Nicolas Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this work.


    Phyllis and Sydney Lucas, New York (acquired from the artist).
    Acquired from the above by the late owner, 2000.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Del Mintz Collection

    An extraordinary draftsman, Salvador Dalí's works on paper exemplify his virtuosic hand as well as the innovative and eccentric imagination that guided it. The basic tension between these forces--impossibly fine execution and boundless creativity and experimentation--defines Dalí's unique appeal. His diverse application of media follows this principle, with collaged butterflies and thickly applied acrylics setting off exquisite lines drawn of ink. Dalí's creative vision is no less varied. In the Dalinian world, giraffes burn, clocks melt and heads explode; Dalí's guiding philosophies are variously Surrealism, Paranoia-Criticism and Nuclear Mysticism. These motifs and movements often recur in his later works to great effect, and the following eleven lots offer a truly unique opportunity to glimpse the powerful ingenuity of one of the 20th century's most potent talents as depicted on paper.

    It is known that this incredible personality of the art world would stay awake for nights on end, gazing at a blank canvas or sheet of paper until images prompted by his subconscious would appear. Combining fluid mediums such as brush and watercolor with acrylic and collaged elements on paper particularly allowed Dalí to quickly extract provocative and fantastic imagery from his mind, translating them into tangible interpretations almost immediately. Perhaps even more so than in his painted canvases which focus on sleek surfaces and subtle graduation, in his graphic works he often applied explosive colors together with suggestive forms.

    As much intellectual as sensationalist, Dalí often looked to literature, history and the opera for inspiration. He created portfolios of drawings, etchings and engravings inspired by Bizet's Carmen, Dante's La Divine Comédie and Cervante's Don Quixote, but found the traditional printmaking methods too constricting and lamented the inability to use color in the brilliant, bombastic way he envisioned in preparatory studies. In the early 1960s he began to incorporate collaged elements such as botanical and butterfly prints into his works on paper, and it was through a chance encounter while sifting through a print shop's bins that he was introduced to an alternative printing process. Phyllis and Sydney Lucas of New York City's Old Print Center immediately hit it off with the established artist, encouraging him to translate his new works on paper into prints by lithography. In lithography, Dalí finally found a graphic medium that allowed him the freedom of expression, as well as the means to fully symphonize colors, that was so important to his creative process.

    This illustrious suite of works on paper, most of which were ultimately translated into lithographs, is the result of an incredibly intense period of collaboration, experimentation and reflection. Each is a fully realized composition, capturing both themes that were reflected in Dalí's work throughout his life and those that were new; the noble Spanish art of bullfighting, flowers that captivated artist's imagination for not only their explosive color but also for the power of their fertility, and most of all, butterflies, a symbol of continual metamorphosis and of the multiplicity of the soul itself. Perhaps the most elaborate and ingenious of the works are those that incorporate beloved Currier & Ives prints into the compositions, paying homage to the great 19th century American printmakers in an intimate take on American nostalgia.


    St. Petersburg, Florida, The Salvador Dalí Museum, The Lucas Collection of Dalí Originals, January-June 1985 (illustrated).