Robert and Nicolas Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this watercolor.
The flowering head motif first appears in Dalí's work in the early 1930s. His portrait of the Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles of 1932 depicts the beautiful young aristocrat with her head covered in colorful summer flowers and a rose emerging from her cheek. By 1934, flowers have covered the entire head of a lascivious woman in The Dream Placing a Hand on a Man's Shoulder, and in Woman with a Head of Roses of 1935 an anonymous draped female figure is placed in an empty receding space, her head blossoming into roses.
This theme culminated in a 1936 performance in collaboration with the artist Sheila Legge at the Burlington Galleries in London. Time magazine reported, "Highlight of the exhibition was artist Salvador Dali's living design, Phantom of Sex Appeal, for which artist Sheila Legge solemnly glided through the crowded, stuffy gallery in a tight white satin gown, her head in a wire cage covered with pink paper rosebuds" (quoted in "Art: Phantom," 29 June 1936). A photograph of Legge wearing her costume on Trafalgar Square was used for the cover of the Surrealist Bulletin in 1936 (fig. 1).
The present beautifully preserved watercolor similarly portrays a curvaceous phantom-like woman clothed in a loosely draped gown, her head replaced by a bouquet of bright blooms. The title of the work The Flowering of Inspiration or alternatively Gala en fleurs, reveals that the identity of this figure is the artist's wife and muse Gala.
A haunting silence pervades the picture that unlike in so many of Dalí's earlier paintings is not over-populated by images of the weird and the wonderful. The mystery of the watercolor is conveyed primarily by the still atmosphere and the spatial relationship between the metamorphosed figure and its environment. Franco Passoni remarked "With Dalí, perspective becomes spatiality; and in this dimension it acquires a psychological reference which therefore lies outside mathematical and Renaissance perspective. Whereas Leonardo insisted that painting is science, for Dalí on the contrary painting is an adventure into dream and can exist and represent itself only in this form" (quoted in "Dalí in the Third Dimension," Dalí Sculptor, Dalí Illustrator, exh. cat., The Stratton Foundation, Milan, 1989, p. 108).