A study of the work Portrait of Joella by Salvador Dalí


Portrait of Joella is a pictorial intervention of Salvador Dalí on a portrait of the gallerist´s wife, Joella Bayer in 1933. It is a work in full development of his paranoiac-critical method, a proposal to allow associations of images with their hidden meanings, often related to sexuality and death.

State of Conservation

The aim of the intervention project is to deal with the work’s state of conservation, which displays a certain degree of instability in the layer of paint. Therefore, it was deemed that the sculpture required an in-depth study of its materials and the techniques used in order to provide suitable methodology to stabilise its constitutive elements and recover its original appearance.

The procedure performed

The restoration work is carried out with the patronage of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, via their Art Preservation Project. The intervention project is made up of three stages: a study phase, a treatment phase and a report-writing phase. It is currently in the study phase, which involves a full analytical examination and a documentary study of the work to enable the factors and causes of its deterioration to be assessed. Therefore, diverse analysis methods are employed, for instance a multispectral study of images with infrared reflectography, ultraviolet light, visible light, X-rays and spectral radiation and reflectance. Similarly, to identify the materials present optical and electronic microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, pyrolysis, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques are used.