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Motherhood

Painting, 1921, 26×28 cm

Description of the artwork «Motherhood»

Salvador Dalimost famous for hissurreal images - those that show the inside of reality. The picture "Motherhood", however, is very far from the "usual Dali." This style of writing is characteristic of the early (first half of the 20s) period of the artist’s work, when he was fond of new sentimentism, in particular the work of Xavier Nages. The course is characterized by a naive manner of depicting a person and a landscape, as well as locally voiced color spots that are enveloped in a smooth background.

The plot was also important for the New Scientists. The new, as usual, turned out to be a well-forgotten old, only highlighted on the other side. The Novosentists wrote pastoral stories with religious motifs intertwined in them, the most popular of which was the image of the Virgin Mary “in a new way”.

So in the "Motherhood" the image of the Madonna is revealed, not only with one child, but with three. The artist’s parents had the same number of children: the eldest son, who died in infancy from meningitis; Dali himself, who was born a year after the death of his brother; and the youngest daughter is Anna Maria. Parents considered the surviving son to be almost the reincarnation of their first child. And Dali himself repeated: "I want to prove to myself that I am not a dead brother at all, but a living one."

The picture is saturated with light. Bright yellow sailboats (there are as many as four characters) show that while the children and mother are together, their fate is a free glide through the warm, calm sea.

“Motherhood” Salvador Dali painted in oil on cardboard in the year of the death of his own mother. Felipa Dali died on the 47th year of life from breast cancer, and the seventeen-year-old artist was inconsolable. And although the faces in the picture are made schematically, it can be assumed that El Salvador was inspired and depicted his own mother - a thin elongated face, a long nose, thick black eyebrows and a small neat mouth.

Dali would not be Dali if even in his simple work, done in an almost primitive manner, would not leave puzzles for the viewer. Why is the figure of a woman shifted to the left? What is this dark succulent, reaching for the boy and already putting him his greasy leaf on his shoulder?

The mother woman is not in the center of the composition, as if showing that motherhood is also a renunciation of the central perception of herself: now this place is given to children.

In the center of the picture is the contact of the heads of two children. An older boy with a dark “tentacle” of succulent on his shoulder and a newborn sucking on his mother’s breast. Here is a clear metaphorical reference to the artist’s childhood. The dark "tentacle" is a hint of the imminent death of the eldest son.
The painting "Motherhood" is in a private collection. Which also has its own difficult story, implicated in the relationship of Dali with her sister Anna Maria. After the death of her mother, it was she who became the main woman for Salvador. They were very close. Dali even hinted that this relationship went beyond the generally accepted.

But then Gala appeared. She was 11 years older than Dali and confidently took him out of the family. In this connection, psychoanalysts could see the artist’s desire for the artist to feel motherly love again.

What about a sister? She was outraged by both Gala herself and the way Dali began to perceive his past. In 1929, El Salvador created the work “Sacred Heart”, on which he wrote: “It’s nice sometimes to spit on the portrait of your mother!”. Most likely, it was a solemn renunciation of the woman who gave physical existence in favor of another woman, Gala, who gave birth to the “new Dali”.

Offended by her brother for all this, Anna Maria began to sell the paintings left in her father's house. So many of Dali's early works, including Motherhood, ended up in private collections.

... Dali had no children. He loved to repeat how nature rests on the children of geniuses. In this case, referring himself not just to geniuses, but to divine geniuses.

Dali was not interested in Novosentinism for long. And already a year or two after the creation of “Motherhood” he began to approach his style. To the one by which it can be accurately recognized.

Author: Elena Siroid
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About the artwork

This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: Expressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Cardboard

Date of creation: 1921

Size: 26×28 cm

Artwork in selections: 11 selections