NAGS HEAD, N.C. — This artwork had a long wait.
An original, signed Salvador Dali wood engraving was found in a North Carolina thrift shop donation box, the Virginian-Pilot reported. It was a recreated scene of purgatory in Dante’s “The Divine Comedy.”
The engraving is currently on display at a gallery in Nags Head, N.C., according to the Virginian-Pilot. But a North Carolina couple has already purchased it for $1,200 and plans to pick it up.
They could’ve saved quite a bit of money had they found the surrealist carving in that Outer Banks thrift shop.
A kindhearted volunteer at the store, Wendy Hawkins, discovered the Dali while going through the art donation box, the Virginian-Pilot reported. An art enthusiast, Hawkins said the piece stood out for some reason in the box.
She took it to an art appraiser, Melanie Smith, who confirmed that it was an actual Dali engraving and not some cheap knockoff.
“It is rare that a work like this was just sitting in a thrift shop,” Smith, who owns the gallery that sold the piece, told the Virginian-Pilot. “Most of the time, people know what it is.”
Hawkins apparently did not profit from the find.
The work, which shows a woman in blue and a man in red, one of several works depicting purgatory. was originally commissioned by the Italian government in the 1950s when it asked Dali to illustrate a new version of “The Divine Comedy.”
But even though Dali was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Italians were outraged that the work had gone to a Spanish surrealist who had previously denounced religion. So the Italian government backed out of the commission.
Dali still did the job though, as he was enthralled by Dante’s work, and he took it to a French publisher.
More than half a century later, at least one piece is finally out of purgatory.