On 14 November 1925, Salvador Dalí’s first solo exhibition opened at the Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona. The painter was only 21 years old. The works in the exhibition showed two aspects that would alternate and complement one another throughout his career: a return to order and tradition, and a search for the most experimental. These two confluences can be clearly seen in the five oils exhibited in Salvador Dalí, Apprentice painter, which are owned by the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí.
Dalí himself later referred to this initial period: “I at the time was painting Cadaqués landscapes, my father, my sister, everything that could be a subject for my frenzied brush. I was paying close attention to Chirico’s paintings, through the magazines. I was contributing to Barcelona’s Gaseta de les arts and L’Amic de les arts; and one book was always at my bedside, Ingres’ Thoughts. I decided I would take some essential notes out of it as preface to my first one-man show, at the Dalmau Gallery, Barcelona, in November 1925. […] This tribute to the beauties of craft and tradition corresponded exactly to my own ideas. This is the basis on which one can afford to be a genius. […] The critics, who are always laggards and unaware of truth, were nevertheless enthusiastic.”
Figure in Profile
On 2 March 2017, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí enriched its collection with the acquisition of the oil on cardboard painting Figure in Profile, from 1925. Dalí painted this work, which forms part of a series of portraits the artist made of his sister during the 1920s, in the family home in Es Llaner, Cadaqués. The piece was exhibited once in 1925 at Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona and since then it has remained hidden from the public eye for the past 92 years, until it was put up for sale by Bonhams auction house.
The acquisition of this oil painting has allowed us to update the entry in the Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí, as until now the only mention of the work was based on a black and white reproduction published in the magazine Atlántico in 1929, and the technique used, the dimensions and the location of the painting were unknown.
Thus, from 14 November 2017, exactly 92 years after the exhibition at Galeries Dalmau opened, visitors to the Dalí Theatre-Museum will be able to admire the work Figure in Profile in the display Salvador Dalí, Apprentice painter.See Technical Data of this Work
My sister sits beside me near the window sewing white underclothes, in the kitchen they are making jams and they talk of setting grapes to dry. I have painted all afternoon, 7 cold hard waves like those of the sea… tomorrow I shall paint 7 more. I feel at peace because I have painted them well, and the sea is more and more like the one I paint.
The exhibition in images
Booklet of the Exhibition
Produced by the Educational Service of the Dalí Foundation with texts by Montse Aguer and the collaboration of Irene Civil, Head of Conservation and Restoration. It has been coordinated by Cuca Costa, of the Centre for Dalinian Studies.Download
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Why visit the exhibition?
Figure in profile is a great revelation as it shows Dalí as an apprentice painter, soaking up both tradition and complete experimentation to depict his sister Anna Maria in the centre of the scene, with Cadaqués in the background.
It is, I confess, also a revelation because there is a certain fetishism, and even voyeurism, in observing an oil painting that has not been seen in public for 92 years. Montse Aguer Director of the Dalí Museums
In this room of the Theatre-Museum, which is inspired by the art galleries of the nineteen-twenties, we are exhibiting different works that the young Dalí presented at his first solo exhibition in Barcelona in 1925.
Cuca R. Costa Exhibition coordinator
“This exhibition reveals a highly gifted artist. A lively soul, he feels all the artistic concerns of the moment and tackles every speculation with great eagerness and, we could say, with genuine majesty. At the bottom of all these searches, Dalí is the substantive, and that is what matters most.”
Gaseta de les Arts 1/12/1925