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Fine Art/Dali Artist's Proof

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Question
Hi Elliott

We have bought a 'Limited Edition, Artists Proof, Salvador Dali, Espana, 73cm x 46 cm' from a gallery.  The work is signed in pencil in the bottom right hand corner by Dali, with the letters 'AP' in the bottom right hand corner, both in pencil.  

We requested a certificate of authenticity which certifies "The above described painting is without doubt the work of the nominated artist.  The palette, brush strokes and subject are consistent with their works. The manner of opinion attests this opinion." The certificate is signed 'on behalf of the gallery director' though no name or qualification noted.

I would be interested to know your opinion as to whether this sounds like it is the authentic work as described on the certificate.

Thanks for your time.

Answer
Dear Robin,

Thank you for your question.  I am not an authenticator myself, so it is difficult for me to say much regarding your certificate of authenticity. Also, there are at least two graphics with the title 'Espana', so I'm not sure which one you have.  

This said, your certificate is very odd. Aside from the fact that Dali is never named, it attests that the 'described painting is without doubt the work of the nominated artist', but the question is the legitimacy of the graphic, not of the painting on which it is based.  The original painting could well have been by Dali, but perhaps the graphics were not authorised.  Nothing is said about the graphic or signature, and a certificate of authenticity really should have addressed the signature in detail.  Further, the certificate describes the 'palette, brush strokes and subject', which, again, are terms that would be appropriate to a painting and not to a graphic.  Finally, you have no name to which to attribute this opinion.  Basically, you have a form letter that could be used for any graphic, and all it really says is that the graphic is based on an authentic image by an unnamed artist.

Again, I am not qualified to say your work is fake, but I would recommend having it examined by a professional appraiser/authenticator who specialises in Dali's graphics.  Options would include Bernard Ewell in Santa Fe, NM, or The Dali Archives in New York; both can be found easily using a Google search.  Another word of warning: according to Albert Field's catalogue, 'The Complete Graphic Works of Salvador Dali', there is a known forgery of a work titled 'Espana' on the market.

Sorry not to have more promising news for you, though I hope this is helpful.  A gallery should stand behind the works it sells, so if you do some investigating and find something suspicious, they should be able and willing to address it.

Good luck.
Best,
Elliott  

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Elliott H. King

Expertise

As a professional art historian, I can answer questions related to the art and life of Salvador Dalí. I am neither an art broker nor an appraiser, so I cannot answer questions regarding a work's value or authenticity; however, I can refer you to individuals who work in the Dali market.

Experience

I am an art historian specializing in Salvador Dalí. For over ten years, I have been a pioneer in the critical study of ‘Late Dalí’ (i.e., the artist's work after 1940). I have presented extensively on aspects of Dalí’s production at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Tate Modern, L’Université de Lausanne, Cerisy la Salle, the University of London, and Harvard University, and I have been a guest lecturer at Cambridge University and the University of Chicago. I have published several essays about Dalí in addition to my book, 'Dalí, Surrealism, and Cinema' (Kamera Books, 2007). I have also contributed to major international exhibitions of Dalí's work, including the Dalí Centenary Exhibition (2004-05) and 'Dalí & Film' (2007-08).

Publications
BOOKS "Dalí: The Late Work", High Museum of Art, Atlanta in association with Yale UP, 2010. "Dalí, Surrealism and Cinema", Kamera Books, Herts (UK), 2007. ESSAYS, ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS • “Little Black Dress, Little Red Book: Dalí, Mao, and Monarchy (with Special Attention to Trajan’s Glorious Testicles)”, in Michael R. Taylor (ed.), The Dalí Renaissance: New Perspectives on His Life and Art after 1940, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2008, pp. 90111. • “The Prodigious Story of the Lacemaker and the Rhinoceros”, in ibid, pp. 190204. • “Crazy Movies That Disappear”, in Matthew Gale (ed.), Dalí and Film, Tate Publishing, London / Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007, pp. 214229. Published also in Spanish as "Dalí y el cine", Electa, Madrid, 2008. • “Le temps dalínien fait mouche: Réflexions sur les « montres molles »”, in Astrid Ruffa, Philippe Kaenel, Danielle Chaperon (eds.), "Salvador Dalí à la croisée des savoirs", Éditions Desjonquères, Paris, 2007, pp. 3752. • “Winged Fantasy with Lead Feet: The Influence of Llullism and Hiparxiologi on Dalí’s Mysticism”, in Hank Hine, William Jeffett and Kelly Reynolds (eds.), "Persistence & Memory: New Critical Perspectives on Dalí at the Centennial", Bompiani Arte, Milan, 2004, pp. 189193. EXHIBITION CATALOGUES: ENTRIES • Dawn Ades and Michael R. Taylor (eds.), "Dalí", Bompiani Arte, Milan, 2004. EXHIBITION CATALOGUES: BIBLIOGRAPHIES, FILMOGRAPHIES AND CHRONOLOGIES • “Dalí Filmography”, published in Matthew Gale (ed.), "Dalí and Film", op.cit., pp. 230231. • “A Cinematic Chronology of Dalí, 19411989”, in ibid, pp. 160163. • Compiled the most complete bibliography of Dalí resources todate, published in Dawn Ades and Michael R. Taylor (eds.), "Dalí", op.cit., pp. 568598.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D, Art History and Theory (2010) University of Essex, Colchester, England M.A. with Distinction in Dissertation, History of Art (2001) Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England B.A. summa cum laude, Art History (hons., Phi Beta Kappa) University of Denver, Denver, Colorado

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