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She leans on a single metallic bar railing in a rectangular doorway, perhaps on a ship, looking out over the sea. The sky is littered with stratocumulus clouds. Hovering around her are seven large stylized rhinocerous horns.

We have a view of her from the rear. She has flowing golden-brown hair with ringlets falling down across her shoulders. She is nude. We see an expanse of back, a breast, a nipple, her calves, the back of a knee, ankles, a foot. Two horns intersect and converge to give the impression we can see her ass. Two white globes of ass-cheek, which are and aren't hers. We see the tell-tale arc of skin where ass ends and thigh begins, but it's an illusion -- a convergence of horn, not her flesh.

Above the knee her body slides out of this reality and she becomes invisible. We see sea where there should be flesh. The metal railing breaks into pieces about the not-her, reforming on the other side. One piece encircles the tip of a horn -- a phallic horn poised to enter her from behind.

Only on the third or fourth glance did I notice the brown line running up each calf. It runs across the back of one ankle and around her left heel. She's wearing pantyhose. For some reason noticing this detail made me feel like I'd solved a puzzle. Dali does that; presents puzzles.

Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized by Her Own Chastity was created by Salvador Dali in 1954. It is part of the Playboy collection in Los Angeles, California.

This painting is particularly interesting, at least to me, because it contains a mistake in Dali's draftsmanship: the young woman's left foot has been drawn impossibly close to the base of the wall.

This is not earthshaking of course; despite his massive ego and paranoia Dali was not actually infallible, and he did this painting early in his career.

It does really bring home to me, though, that underneath the layers of pigment and the intricate, painstaking conceptualization and soul-searching that go into any serious painting, there remains the necessity of being able to draw a straight line, and the correct handling of perspective and lighting. Often lost in the shadow of his hallucinations and unrelenting showmanship, Dali's draftsmanship is among the finest and most effective of any modern artist, and this painting gives us a glimpse of a rare lapse in that incendiary technique.

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