Michaeldavitt on DeviantArthttps://www.deviantart.com/michaeldavitt/art/The-discovery-of-America-by-Christopher-Columbus-341278071Michaeldavitt

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The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus



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The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus is the name of a painting by artist Salvador Dalí, begun in 1958 and finished in 1959. It is over 14 feet tall and over 9 feet wide (410 x 284 cm; 161.4 x 111.8 in), one in a series of large paintings Dalí did during this era.

This work is an ambitious homage to Dali's Spain. It combines Spanish history, religion, art, and myth into a unified whole. It was commissioned for Huntington Hartford for the opening of his Museum Gallery of Modern Art on Columbus Circle (hence the mention in the Title) in New York.

At this time, some Catalan historians were claiming that Columbus was actually from Catalonia, not Italy, making the discovery all the more relevant for Dali, who was also from this region of Spain.

The eponymous painting deals with Christopher Columbus's first landing in the New World; it depicts the event metaphorically rather than aiming at historical accuracy. Columbus is depicted not as a middle-aged mariner, but as an adolescent boy in a classical robe to symbolize America as a young continent with its best years ahead of it.
Dalí, in a period of intense interest in Roman Catholic mysticism at the time, symbolically portrayed Columbus bringing Christianity and the true church to a new world as a great and holy accomplishment.

Gala Dalí, the painter's wife, whom he often depicted as the Virgin Mary, poses the for role of The Blessed Virgin (or according to some commentators Saint Helena) on the banner in the right hand of Columbus. She appears as a Saint, suggesting that she is Dali's muse and that she is responsible for his own, "Discovery of America".

Dalí painted himself in the background as a kneeling monk holding a crucifix. Dalí's belief that Columbus was Catalonian is represented by the incorporation of the old Catalonian flag.

The painting contains numerous references to the works of Diego Velázquez, specifically The Surrender of Breda, a Spanish painter who had died 300 years earlier, and who influenced both Dalí's painting and his moustache.

Dali borrows the spears from that painting and places them on the right hand side of his work. Within these spears, Dali has painted the image of a crucified Christ, which was based on a drawing by the Spanish mystic, St. John.

The flies and the bishop on the bottom left is in reference to a Catalan folk legend (from Girona) about St. Narciso's crypt. Dali uses this myth to underline his patriotic devotion to his homeland's independence.

The painting now hangs in the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida which provides a permanent home for the collection of A. Reynolds Morse & Eleanor R. Morse.
Image size
3798x2840px 6.23 MB
Shutter Speed
10/300 second
Focal Length
62 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Nov 6, 2011, 11:12:04 AM
© 2012 - 2024 Michaeldavitt
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Mrsox88's avatar
Much of Dali’s greatest work, in my opinion, has nothing to do with surrealism. Surrealism was the YouTube Poop of it’s day, but unlike YTP it was very much politically charged. It was meant for the purpose of breaking down society in a very Marxist fashion. Dali didn’t really buy into that and was very much about promoting himself, he didn’t mind capitalism which put off his socialist peers. He came to the United States during the throes of World War II. He was from Catalonia, a region of Spain with its own language and culture. His love of America combined with his Spanish heritage is expressed quite vividly in this painting. You can find this masterpiece at the Salvador Dalí museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. I highly recommended any aspiring artist to take a trip there if they have the means. For me, it was like the beginning of a wonderful friendship. A master yet a mortal, it takes a certain sort of man to see “the toreador in the De Milo”.