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Today's Yale Dalí News

It’s official: “The Free Inclination of Desire,” displayed on the third floor of the Yale University Art Gallery, is in fact a Dalí.

Until today, the 1930 oil painting was labeled “attributed to Salvador Dalí,” the Spanish surrealist. Now the gallery's online description reflects the judgment of experts at the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, which announced this week that it has certified the authenticity of “Free Inclination” and a second painting, “Simulation of the Night,” which belongs to a private collector.

“Both are very significant,” the director of the foundation's research department, Montse Aguer, told Agence France Presse. “They depict dreamlike landscapes that are typical of Dalí, with shadows and big pedestals."

Yale “is delighted” by the announcement, the gallery says in a statement.

“Though the painting had long been attributed to the renowned Spanish artist, it had not been confirmed as his work until now. The Foundation has traced the painting to a 1935 exhibition of Dalí’s work in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of Spain’s Canary Islands, through press clippings from that time.”

That 1935 exhibition was apparently the only time "Free Inclination" was shown. At some point afterward, the cosmetics tycoon Helena Rubinstein was said to have bought it directly from Dalí. In 1966, real estate magnate and art collector Charles Benenson ’33 bought the painting in a Sotheby's auction, according to Eye on a Century, a book about Benenson's extraordinary collection of contemporary art, which he later donated to Yale.

Since then, “the vibrancy of the rainbow’s colors and the figure of the man with an axe, anomalous in Dalí’s oeuvre, have led some experts to question the work’s attribution,” the book continues.

At that time, the gallery concluded that “further research is required to attribute this work with certainty.” 

Consider it done.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Yale University Art Gallery, Salvador Dalí, Charles Benenson
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