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Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

The Life of Mary Magdalene

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
The Life of Mary Magdalene
signed and dated 'Dalí 1960' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 1/2 x 24 3/4in. (62.2 x 62.8cm.)
Painted in 1960
Carroll Carstairs Gallery, New York
Anon. sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 23 October 1974, lot 261 ($35,000) Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
R. Descharnes, Salvador Dalí, New York 1976, p. 160 (illustrated p. 161). R. Descharnes & G. Neret, Salvador Dalí: The Paintings vol. II, 1946-1989, Cologne 1994, no. 1173 (illustrated in colour p. 525).
New York, Carroll Carstairs Gallery, Salvador Dalí, 1960-1961, no. 8.

Lot Essay

In 1960 the religious and intellectual world was stirred by the coronation of Pope John XXIII, who gave an audience to Dalí the same year. The artist commemorated the occasion with the monumental Ecumenical Council (see illustration) and Christ at Emmaus. At this time, Dalí was exploring new techniques within a classical aesthetic repertoire and among other things stuck real teeth and nails to his canvases. Other important works of this period include Hyperxiological Sky and the lost wax mould for a book binding using knives and forks, precious stones and choice pearls on a bronze ground. In the present oil, Mary Magdalene becomes the symbolic pendant to the Christus patiens of Medieval icons. The body of the Sinner, redeemed from vice by Christ's call, is portrayed by Dalí as transfixed by the nails of the Passion - clearly symbolised by the Cross, significantly marking the brests of Magdalene. This Surrealist feast is, thus, an apocalyptic, religious manifesto, where Dalí pays homage to the very emblems of his catholic education.

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