21.50 x 12 cm. The lot includes a certificate of authenticity from the Gala Salvador Dalí Foundation.
At the turn of 1926, when he was finally expelled from the Madrid Fine Arts School, the work of the young Salvador Dalí shifted towards Surrealism. Although he did not become an official member of André Breton's movement until 1929, at his Goemans Gallery exhibition, the years that preceded his "induction" gave the artist a chance to explore various Surrealist techniques based on the emergence of images. This was also the time when he met Luis Buñuel and Federico García Lorca at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, and his first trip to Paris. Found by chance between the pages of a book, three drawings from 1926 and 1927, signed by the Catalan master, illustrate this seminal period. As gifts from the painter, they have stayed in the same family since the 1930s. The oldest shows a "Man at Table" (reproduced here), a kind of labyrinthine portrait drawn in a single stroke, as with automatic writing, which still shows the influence of Cubism. The drawing can be compared with a painting of the same year, "Still Life by Moonlight or Invitation to Sleep" – a tribute to García Lorca – which clearly shows his debt to the work of Picasso, whom Dalí first met in 1926. The two other small inks on paper (less than 15 cm), dating from the following year, show respectively a woman's bust (€30,000/40,000) – published for the first time in October 1927 in La Nova Revista, a review to which Dalí contributed as an illustrator and writer – and a "Hand with Ants" (€36,000/46,000), a recurring theme that here seems to draw its spiralling energy from the contemporary automatic drawings of Masson. Two years later, Dalí and his friend Luis Buñuel made "Un Chien Andalou", the first Surrealist film, for which the two colleagues imported a load of ants all the way from the Sierra de Guadarrama, as they could find none in the capital. The rest is history.