An equestrian watercolour by artist Salvador Dali is predicted to fetch up to half a million dollars at auction in New York later this month.
Dalí’s 1954 composition Le Chevalier is dominated by a monumental horse and rider charging triumphantly through the scene, their forms heroically towering over the landscape. Bearing a scroll and shield, and wearing laurel leaves tucked behind his ears, the dashing knight seems to have been plucked from an ancient Greek myth, his muscular form suggesting a heroic figure such as Herakles, perhaps riding one of the mares of Diomedes.
The piece is among 27 lots up for auction in The Art of the Surreal sale at Christies in New York on March 23.
Created using a mixture of delicate watercolour and thin strokes of pen and ink, Le Chevalier has a pre-auction estimate of between £220,000 and £260,000 ($NZ425,000 to $503,000; $US307,000 to $363,000).
Dali completed several artworks and sculptures including horses during his lifetime.
Behind the knight and his steed, a frieze-like sequence of otherworldly characters are dotted along the shoreline of a quiet inlet, which contains echoes of the landscape near Dalí’s home in Port Lligat in Northern Spain. More than any other place on earth, it was the bay at Port Lligat that provided the landscape of Dalí’s hallucinatory visions. It was the place where the paranoiac-critical images of his paintings repeatedly seemed to emerge before his eyes and the enigmatic shapes of its hills and rocks gave form to so many of his strange and haunting images.
The sale features work by several of the best-known surrealist artists, including René Magritte, whose Le mois des vendanges has a pre-auction estimate of between £10 million and £15 million.
• Update: Auction results (Le Chevalier withdrawn)