Fourteen watercolor fruit studies by Salvador Dali were sold for the first time Tuesday at an auction in London, fetching a total of 726,000 pounds ($1.13 million).
The series of works by the Spanish surrealist took center stage at the Bonhams auction, which also included Impressionist and modern masterworks by Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and others.
In these previously unseen watercolors by Dali (1904-1981), the artist depicts different varieties of fruit with human-like movements or their shapes altered to insinuate the presence of sexual organs.
"They've never been seen before at auction and they show Dali's ability to humanize objects, a technique that shows his talent to see things in places where no one else was looking," William O'Reilly, director of Bonhams' Impressionist department, told Efe.
Plums, peaches, blackberries, strawberries and other fruit are depicted as medieval knights or painted with rectangular or circular holes in the middle, as part of scenes in which Dali occasionally included literary figures such as Don Quixote.
In the "fruitDali" series, "the artist appropriates very traditional 19th century botanical lithographs, designed as scientific illustrations, and paints over them with his characteristically fantastic embellishments," Bonhams said.
The paintings were commissioned by Swiss publisher Jean Schneider in 1969 and were not shown to the public until November 2000, when their owner agreed to exhibit them at Cologne's Orangerie-Reinz gallery. EFE