Every so often, shoppers or employees of thrift stores will find a hidden gem among the piles of used clothing and vintage furniture. Items ranging from a Picasso print to a sweater owned by football legend Vince Lombardi have been excavated.
The 9.75-inch-by-6.75-inch woodcut print, titled Purgatory Canto 32, was part of Dalí's series on Dante’s Divine Comedy and depicts a woman dressed in blue and a man in red. A store volunteer named Wendy Hawkins came across it when sorting through artwork that needed to be priced before going out on the sales floor.
Getting the feeling the work was more polished than other art in the assortment, Hawkins took it to the Seaside Art Gallery for an expert’s opinion. There, Seaside owner Madeline Smith determined it was a Dalí print. His signature appears both in the woodcut print and in pencil.
Beginning in 1957, Dalí spent nine years working on the 100 watercolors that made up his tribute to Dante. The project was originally commissioned by the National Library of Italy but revoked when critics questioned the appropriateness of Dalí, who was Spanish, being assigned to honor the Italian Dante. Artists spent five years carving wood blocks used to make the prints from his watercolors.
With assistance from the Seaside Art Gallery, the thrift store has already sold the piece for $1200. The proceeds will go to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.