0166-Portrait of the artist’s father (1925)

Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm Museo de Arte Moderno, Barcelona

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Portrait of the artist’s father (1925)
Portrait du père de l’artiste

Analysis: The imposing presence in this portrait reveals, better than is possible in writing, the strong personality of the notary Salvador Dalí y Cusi, the artist’s father. Dalí has superbly portrayed that paternal authority against which less than five years later he was destined to revolt, shortly after his meeting with Gala. He recounts that his father always intimidated him more than anyone else. This feeling is clearly shown by the pose of the sitter, the construction of the picture, the lighting, and the neo-realistic technique inspired by Andre Derain. The portrait was painted in the summer of 1925 at Cadaqués in fifteen sittings; Dalí, who cannot remember exactly how much time he has spent on a picture, claims to have done it very quickly. We may better appreciate his keen sense of observation if we compare the likeness in this portrait with a pencil drawing of the same period, “Portrait of the Artist’s Father and Sister“, and a photograph in which he posed with his father in 1948, twenty-three years later. The exactness of details in this painting has the merit of causing memories from the time Dalí was painting the work to come back to him. Thus, speaking of the pipe held by his father in his left hand, he remembers that the latter “was always smoking and I myself used to smoke a pipe with wood tar because I thought that I was a detective like Sherlock Holmes, without tobacco. But, if I was only pretending, he was really smoking.” The family did not think that his right hand was placed in a suitable position, but he himself considered it perfectly normal for a father to put his hand wherever he wanted it, even if this spot was exactly where his paternal virility was! In 1925 Dalí exhibited this picture for the first time, in Barcelona at the Dalmau Gallery. In his Secret Life, speaking of this realistic period influenced by Derain and Vermeer, he wrote: “Paris heard rumors that a new painter had just been discovered in Spain. While passing through Barcelona, Picasso had seen my “Girl’s Back” and had praised it highly. I knew that on the day of my arrival in the capital I would put them all in my bag.” Later he used this realistic technique in most of his Surrealist works and he remained faithful to it his whole life in certain canvases, when this seemed necessary to him.
Source: dali-gallery.com