reels post

All about News

Hot News

Story of the iconic Dali painting before it leaves Glasgow

Our city has been home to Salvador Dalí’s Christ of St John of The Cross since 1952 when the Glasgow Corporation purchased it for £8200. Today, it is thought to be worth over £60 million and is regarded as the most treasured painting in the country.

It will be removed from its spot, pride of place at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, on August 9 and shipped off to Dalí’s hometown of Figueres, Spain. We will not be able to see it again until June 2024.

Glasgow Times:

As we prepare to say a temporary farewell to the painting, we look back at the history of how it came to be so loved and revered in Glasgow.

Typically known as a surrealist who favoured painting more bizarre imagery, Spanish painter Dalí created Christ of Saint John of the Cross in 1951. He said the inspiration came to him in a ‘cosmic dream’ and was inspired by a drawing by John of the Cross, a 16th-century Spanish friar.

Dalí wanted to paint Christ as if the viewer is looking down from the sky; as if from the point of view of God. To achieve this, he hired Russell Saunders, a stuntman for Hollywood movies, to be suspended from a gantry so Dalí could see how it would look from that angle.

At the bottom of Christ’s feet is a pool of water, from which Dalí took real-life inspiration from the bay at Port Lligat, Spain where he lived at the time.

Glasgow Times:

Dalí was also inspired to depict Christ without the typical images associated with the crucifixion, hence why there is no blood, nails through his hands or a crown of thorns. It is also one of the few paintings of the crucifixion in which we cannot see Christ’s face.

The masterpiece caught the eye of renowned Glasgow art dealer Tom Honeyman, who was the director of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. In his 15 years in the role, Honeyman was credited with significantly increasing the reputation of Glasgow art galleries and museums, and his purchases brought queues of visitors to the city.

Yet when Honeyman bought Christ of St John of the Cross in 1952, it was not well-received initially. Many thought this was too expensive, and a petition was even launched demanding that the £8200 be spent elsewhere – for example, on an exhibition space to display the work of local artists.

Glasgow Times:

Once it was on display, the controversy surrounding the painting took a while to die down. In 1961 a museum visitor attempted to destroy the canvas by ripping it, which resulted in the artwork being removed and restored.

But little did the disapproving public know, the painting would go on to become one of the most viewed in the country, and the stand-out piece of the city museum.

It has been loaned to a handful of galleries over the years and was housed in the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art from 1993 to 2006 while Kelvingrove was being restored, but the West End gallery is its home.

Glasgow Times:

It was voted Scotland’s favourite painting in a 2006 survey and was also far from a waste of money – in fact, as Honeyman had bought the intellectual property rights, Glasgow Museums has earned back the original payment multiple times.

The Christ of St John of the Cross will very soon leave an empty space in Glasgow – and its absence will be felt. It will go to the Teatro-Museo Dalí where it will be displayed from November 2023 to April 2024, its first visit back to Spain since Dalí put paintbrush to canvas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *