Salvador Dali's Figura de perfil (La Hermana Ana María) made £1,805,000 at Bonhams' Impressionist and Modern Art sale on Thursday 2 March at London, New Bond Street. The work, a portrait of Dali's sister, given to her by the artist before their relationship descended into turmoil, had been estimated at £800,000-1,200,000.
Bonhams Head of Modern and Impressionist Art, India Phillips, said, "This was an important and rare work from a pivotal period in Dali's life and career. The painting had never appeared at auction before and I am not surprised it was so keenly fought over nor that it achieved such an impressive price."
Figura de perfil (1925) combines two of Dali's favoured subjects, his sister Ana María and the Cadaqués coastline that he referred to as "by far the most beautiful place in the world". Dali painted Ana María regularly through the 1920s. She later recalled his painting 'countless portraits of me', noting that he 'invariably painted me at the window'. Of those many portraits Dali chose this painting, Figura de perfil, to give to his sister.
Although Dali and his sister were on good terms when Figura de perfil was painted, they fell out over the publication of Dali's autobiographical The Secret Life of Dali in 1942. Believing his account to be an unfair depiction of Dali family life, Ana María published a rival work: Salvador Dali as Seen by his Sister (1949).
By 1925, having already flown through Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauvism and Cubism, Dali was on the verge of entering the Surrealist phase for which he is best known. One of only a few works painted at this turning point in his career, Figura de perfil has been out of public view for nearly a century. Given by the artist to his sister, it was, in turn, presented by Ana Maria to the family of the present owners.