Salvador Dalí’s Christ of St John of The Cross has been returned “home” to Spain.
The painting is being loaned to the Dali Theatre-Museum in the artist’s hometown for five months, and will be the centrepiece of a major exhibition opening on November 1.
It marks the first time the painting will be back in Spain in over seven decades.
A spokesperson for Glasgow Life said that lending the artwork will allow it “to be seen amongst relevant artworks made around the same time, close to where it was made”.
The added the loan will help build the “international reputation” of Glasgow’s art collection.
It has been regarded as one of Scotland’s most treasured pieces ever since Director of Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums Dr Tom Honeyman secured it for the city for £8,200.
The painting has been a major draw for visitors to Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum, helping make the museum and art gallery one of Scotland’s most popular free attractions.
It depicts Jesus Christ on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen.
While it is a depiction of the crucifixion, the painting is devoid of nails, blood, and a crown of thorns – according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ.
The painting will return to Glasgow in June 2024.
A spokesperson for Glasgow Life said: “The work will be the centrepiece of a major exhibition at the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain, opening on November 1, until April 30, 2024.
“Part of the museum, Galatea Tower, is the artist’s former home and the nearby coastline is the setting for Christ of Saint John of the Cross.
“The painting, which the artist believed to be one of his greatest masterpieces, hasn’t been seen in Spain since 1952, when it was shown in Madrid and Barcelona, shortly before being acquired for Glasgow and coming to Kelvingrove.
In correspondence with then Director of Glasgow Museums, Dr Tom Honeyman, Dali was keen to ensure that this important painting could be seen by audiences internationally.
“The loan to Figueres is an important opportunity for Glasgow Life Museums to be part of a significant exhibition which centres around Christ of Saint John of the Cross, offering new insights into the artist and the creative process behind this painting specifically.
“Lending to this exhibition allows the painting to be seen amongst relevant artworks made around the same time, close to where it was made.
“The exhibition will be accompanied by an academic publication, which includes contributions written by Glasgow Life Museums staff, as well as Dali scholars from across the world.
“Loans of objects are important for museums and help to build the international reputation of the city’s collection. The painting will return to Kelvingrove in June 2024.”
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