When Dalí painted this portrait, he was a boisterous fine arts student, indifferent to the manifesto of Surrealism published that same year in Paris. The son of a notary, he got himself expelled from what is now the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. In 1925, his first solo exhibition at the avant-garde Dalmau gallery in Barcelona was a success. In its classicism, his work echoes the post-war “return to order” movement: Dalí revered the Neoclassicism of Ingres. Maria Carbona was a young intellectual from Figueras, the artist’s birthplace in Catalonia. She was the daughter of a writer and the town’s mayor. Her pose here suggests both shyness and poise, rendered by a combination of cool elegance and stark monumentality that recalls, to some extent, portraits by the German New Objectivity movement – Dix in this case. The work is painted on the back of a fragment of a still life executed by the artist in 1924, which was later cut in four. In 1929, Dalí officially joined the Surrealists.
© Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí / SOCAN (2020)