In 1945, when he was living in the United States, Salvador Dali illustrated The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini for the publisher Doubleday, which produced a limited edition of 1000 books, all numbered and signed by the artist.
The collection of the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation contains as part of the painter’s legacy the copies from that edition numbered 16 and 102, together with all the original drawings used for illustrating the volume.
Forty-one illustrations appear in the book, all but one of which are owned by the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, which also possesses some studies and an additional drawing which was not used for the publication in the end.
Of these forty-one original drawings, all done with India ink, fifteen were colored using watercolors. Most are signed and dated: (Dali 1945), (Gala Dali 1945), (Salvador Dali 1945) and were done on a single type of paper, cut to different sizes for each drawing.
While Salvador Dali was still alive the drawings were shown to the public in the Four Hundred Works by Salvador Dali from 1914 to 1983, organized jointly in 1983 by the Ministry of Culture and the Government of Catalonia in homage to Salvador Dali, first in Madrid and then in Barcelona.
After the artist’s death the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation organized a further two exhibitions with these illustrations: A Singular Dali, organized by the Museu de Cadaqués, Cadaqués (from 19 June to 1 November 1998) and Dali and the Power of Imagination, held at the Nordiska Akvarellmuseet in Skärhamn, Sweden (from 13 May to 2 September 2001).