Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Christ of Saint John of the Cross -  Salvador Dali

Christ of Saint John of the Cross - Salvador Dali

We see Jesus on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen. Although it is a depiction of the crucifixion, it is devoid of nails, blood, and a crown of thorns, because, according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ. Also in a dream, the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting was revealed to him.

The painting is known as the Christ of Saint John of the Cross because it is based on a drawing by the 16th century Spanish friar Saint John of the Cross.

The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms; the circle is formed by Christ’s head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may be an allusion to Platonic thought

On the bottom of his studies for the painting, Dalí explained its inspiration:

In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the ‘nucleus of the atom.’ This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it ‘the very unity of the universe,’ the Christ!

Around this time Dali took an interest in quantum physics and other dimensions. As with Crucifixion or Corpus Hypercubus, we have this crossing of the transition zone.

I recall seeing Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali in an art gallery in Glasgow. It was acquired for the princely sum of £8,200, all that was left in the budget, knocked down from a catalogue price of £12,000 and yet at the time the purchase was attacked as being extravagant, a waste of public money. The Spanish government is rumoured to have offered £80 million for the painting.

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One Response to “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Excellent BBC Radio 4 programme on Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali

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