Dalí’s Christ of St John on the Cross

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Wednesday, 2017, May 24

One of Dalí s most famous paintings is Christ of St John on the Cross. (1951) Considered his finest religious painting, it now hangs in Scotland’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery, in Glasgow’s West End and has been there ever since its purchase by the galleries director in 1952. Painted in 1951, Dalí’s iconic painting has become one of the best-loved in the entire collection, amongst Glaswegians and visitors.

More than 65 years on since its original purchase, the enduring appeal of the painting shows no signs of diminishing and it is now one of the most popular exhibits in the museum.​

The painting, purchased for less than ten thousand pounds, is now valued at 60 million. Dalí took his inspiration for the painting from a dream he had in 1950’s. Amazingly, to create the figure in the painting, Dalí had a stuntman from Hollywood, suspended from an overhead gantry, so that he could see how the body would appear from the desired angle, considering the force of gravity.

The seascape in the painting is the bay of Port Lligat, where Dalí lived. The artwork viewed from below gives the impression of being eerily three dimensional, even though the face of the figure is not visible.

The painting's presence in the Glasgow Museums' collection hasn't been without drama though, having been damaged twice, most famously when the canvas was badly torn by a visitor wielding a sharp stone. Conservators at Kelvingrove were able to repair the painting to the extent that the damage is now barely visible.

Glasgow is city proud of its artistic heritage; the Dalí in the Kelvingrove gallery has assisted in putting the gallery at 14th in a world ranking of most visited major art museums worldwide.