Salvador Dalí - 20th Century & Contemporary Art New York Tuesday, July 18, 2023 | Phillips
  • Strikingly bold, Salvador Dalí’s watercolor on paper, Moïse from his La Sainte Bible series, 1964, expresses a creative exploration into traditional biblical iconography. Here, the Old Testament figure Moses is painted in three-quarters view, reminiscent of the Renaissance portraiture Dalí showed great interest in later in his career. Dalí reinvigorates this iconography by slightly altering traditional characteristics. Rather than simply replicating Moses’ horns, a hallmark of Medieval and Renaissance European depictions of the figure, Dalí creates stylized opaque black horns which seem to grow out of Moses’ head and into a washed-out halo that emanates from the figure. The washy halo maintains the dreamlike state that is so integral to many of Dalí’s works and reflects the lasting imprint of Surrealism on his practice.


    Through this portrait, Dalí strikes a balance between science and faith, as he believed that scientific advances such as Einstein's theory of relativity were a direct result of God's presence, furthering his Catholic piety. This work, as part of the series of watercolor illustrations for La Sainte Bible, advanced Dalí’s renewed engagement with religious iconography. These works highlight his complicated and evolving relationship with religion, having renounced, then reclaimed, his Catholic upbringing. Dalí explores these themes while maintaining concurrent interests in Freudian concepts, tapping into the unconscious through eerie compositions. Moïse represents Dalí’s effort to symbolically extract meaning from religious iconography, reviving traditional representations of Moses and the bible at large.

    • Provenance

      Franklin Bowles Gallery, San Francisco
      Magnus Magnusson (acquired from the above)
      Thence by descent to the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Salvador Dalí

      Spanish • 1904 - 1989

      Salvador Dalí was perhaps the most broadly known member of the Surrealist movement of the early twentieth century. Heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud, the avant-garde style explored consciousness and dream-like states through exaggerated landscapes and bizarre or grotesque imagery. Using the means of painting, sculpture, printmaking, film and literature, Dalí explored these ideas with a meticulous hand and inventive wit. 

      Although known for his role in Surrealism, Dalí was also a seminal example of celebrity showmanship and the cult of personality, a phenomenon that dominates popular culture today. Always a colorful and flamboyant presence with his signature cape, wide-eyed expression and trademark upturned waxed mustache, Dalí was a master of self-promotion and spectacle.

      View More Works


Moïse from the La Sainte Bible series

watercolor, brush and India ink, black chalk and pencil on paper
19 5/8 x 13 1/4 in. (49.8 x 33.7 cm)
Executed in 1964, the work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Nicholas Descharnes.

Full Cataloguing

$40,000 - 60,000 

Contact Specialist

Nina Piro
Specialist, Associate Vice President

20th Century & Contemporary Art

New York Auction 18 July 2023