- BBC News World
They called it “Salvador Dalí’s lost wax” because it was missing for more than 40 years.
In fact, many thought that the “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”, an original wax crucifix from which hundreds of versions have been made, had been destroyed.
However, during all this time, the bas-relief sculpture that the genius of Spanish surrealism molded with his own hands was stored in a vault in Hawaii.
Dalí’s work, valued between US$10 and US$20 millionwas found in the basement of the home of a private American collector who apparently bought it directly from the artist.
When some gallery owners in Hawaii learned of its existence, they decided to pay an undisclosed sum to buy the sculpture and display it in one of their rooms under a new name: “Lost wax”.
Harte International Galleries, the gallery located on the island of Maui, presented the piece on Wednesday, May 11, on the occasion of the 118th anniversary of the Catalan artist’s birth.
Although the Hawaiian museum had sold other versions of the “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” in the past, “no one thought that the original work, made by the master Dalí in wax, still existed”Glenn Harte, the gallery’s co-founder and director, said in a statement.
The gallery plans to “share ‘The Lost Wax’ with the public, so art and history enthusiasts can experience this remarkable work of art.”
According to the gallery owner, the collector from whom they bought the work kept the sculpture in the original Plexiglas box that Dalí had used to preserve its shape.
“Given the challenges of preserving the wax, few expected that the original mold would have survived,” considers the art magazine ArtNews.
The 3D adaptation of “Dali’s greatest religious work”
Harte International Galleries worked with Dalí expert Nicolas Descharnes – whose father, Robert Descharnes, was Dalí’s secretary until his death – and iconographic expert Carlos Evaristo to authenticate the sculpture.
The wax piece was created in 1979 and served as a model for other editions of Dalí’s “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” in gold, silver, platinum, and bronze.
In turn, the sculpture is the three dimensional rendering from an acclaimed painting by the Spanish artist, the eponymous work depicting Jesus on the cross floating in a twilight sky that, according to the Hawaiian gallery, is “the most important religious work ever created by Dalí.”
The painting “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” is from 1951 and is now in a museum in Scotland, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, in Glasgow.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC News Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.