Salvador Dali painting loan to Vatican approved by council

The artwork, usually found in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, will form part of an exhibition at the Church of San Marcello al Corso.

Glasgow’s “treasured” Salvador Dali painting ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ will be displayed in Rome next month after a loan to the Vatican was agreed.

The artwork, usually found in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, will form part of an exhibition at the Church of San Marcello al Corso.

It is being organised in the lead-up to the Catholic Church’s Jubilee year in 2025 — and was requested by the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelization, which is overseen by Pope Francis.

Councillors approved the loan, subject to the Vatican meeting Glasgow Life’s terms and conditions, at a meeting on Thursday.

A spokesman for Glasgow Life, which runs the city’s museums, previously confirmed the painting will return from Spain this month, where it has been on display in Dali’s hometown.

It will then be loaned to the Vatican between May 13 and June 23 before going back on display at Kelvingrove in July this year.

Bailie Annette Christie, SNP, the council’s convener for culture, sport and international relations, said the “treasured” Dali painting is in “high demand”.

She said the loan will “raise the profile of the city of Glasgow, with the aim of attracting new audiences to boost our already vibrant visitor economy”.

Bailie Christie added Glasgow Life’s museums team is “very supportive of this proposed loan” from a “curatorial perspective”.

Her report to councillors added: “The painting will be displayed alongside the original drawing by St John of the Cross, and Dali’s The Assumpta Corpuscolaria Lapislazulina (1952).

“Although both paintings by Dali have been seen together before, this presents an important opportunity to see both works, designed as part of a close series, together in an ecclesiastical context and, uniquely, with the original drawing by St John.

“Collectively these three artworks provide the context for an analysis of the dialogues, reading and experiences which led Dali to propose his interpretation of the Christian faith’s central event as rendered in Glasgow’s Dali.”

Bailie Christie said the loan would be expected “to drive increased footfall to the city on the painting’s return to Kelvingrove”.

Cllr Cecilia O’Lone, Labour, asked whether there was an opportunity for the three artworks to be shown in Glasgow.

Celine Blair, collections manager for Glasgow Museums, said that possibility “hasn’t been able to be explored with this particular proposal” as the request was made “quite late”.

She added there is normally “a long lead-in time” for displays, with the programme “mapped out quite rigorously in advance”.

Ms Blair confirmed there is a £300 standard admin fee for international loans. “The reason we don’t normally charge huge fees for international loans or loans is that we get into a culture where everybody begins to do the same thing, which means exhibitions become exponentially more expensive,” she added.

The exhibition in Rome will be free to access, the collections manager added.

Reportedly valued at more than £60 million, Dali’s painting was purchased by Glasgow Corporation in 1952 for £8,200.

The artwork has been on loan to the Dali Theatre and Museum in his hometown of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain.

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