Robert Descharnes has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.
The deteriorating political situation in Europe during the 1930s led Dalí to seek his fortunes in America, which seemed a fertile territory for his increasingly diversified interests as his strained relationship with the Surrealist group came to an end. Living in New York, where his notoriety had achieved celebrity status, Dalí painted society portraits, created jewelry designs, set designs and even dressed department store windows.
The explosion of the atom bomb in Japan, marking the end of the War, and the advent of a new era in which humankind lived under the permanent threat of universal cataclysm, compelled Dalí to seek eternal human values in ancient history and myth. Newly obsessed with the theme of classicism, he began a group of set designs for a film "The Seven Wonders of the World" in 1954 (Descharnes and Néret, vol. II, nos. 1058-1064), and the present work is very likely part of this series.
The present work depicts one of the Seven Wonders, the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. Built around 550 BC, it was reputed to have been endowed by King Croesus, the richest man in the ancient work. The temple was famed for its marble construction, being the first of this kind; its ornate facade and imposing colonnade overlooked the city's public space and marketplace. In a style typical for Dalí, the work is full of symbols that invoke the ancient Greek myths. According to legend, a tribe of warrior women called the Amazons founded the city of Ephesus, and an Amazon figure on horseback with raised shield and spear is present along the right side of the composition. Also depicted are symbols of Diana's lineage and her religious attributes. She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, the twin sister of Apollo, the god of music, and was known primarily as the goddess of chastity, the hunt, the moon and childbirth. Along the right edge of the work, a musician carries the golden lyre of Apollo and along the left edge, a hunter with his prey surveys the scene. A crescent moon has risen just above the temple's roof as women prepare bulls, symbolic of Diana's childbearing responsibilities, for sacrifice in the courtyard.
It is likely that Dalí gave this painting to Carlos Alemany, whom he employed to execute his jewelry designs.