A Salvador Dalí masterpiece on loan to the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland will help tell the story of Spain’s Golden Age during its five-month installation.
The artwork titled Christ of Saint John of the Cross has been transported to its temporary home in County Durham and will be displayed alongside El Greco’s Christ on the Cross, uniting the two Spanish masterpieces.
El Greco depicts Christ as a living man with dramatic light contrasts that speak of an experience of anguish, forcing the viewer to come face to face with Christ’s suffering.
While Dalí presents a beautiful but anonymous figure seen from above, emphasizing his role as the Son of God and the magnitude of his sacrifice.
The founder of The Auckland Project, Jonathan Ruffer, thanked the “wonderfully generous” Glasgow Museum of Life for lending the painting, adding that “mere words of thanks really aren’t enough”.
He told the PA news agency: “I have always been a big believer in the power of incongruity and one of the reasons we have a Spanish gallery is because it is so unlikely that there is such a thing.
“Having an image as important as Dalí’s is something really wonderful.
“The Spanish Gallery is about the Spanish Golden Age, which really started in earnest from the 1590s and ended probably 70 or 80 years later.
“We are telling a story and Dalí’s image really helps us tell that story. The crucifixion is probably the most painted of all religious images in the world.
“The death of Christ was a really central theme in the 17th century and here we have someone painting a picture that was very old-fashioned in the 1950s, and almost unique for doing it with the sense of realism that Dalí brought to it. so it begs the question of what that image is about and if you see it next to El Greco, whose images of the crucifixion are extraordinarily powerful, it begs the question of what do you see when you look at these things.
“It stops being just about the two images in front of you and becomes you, what do you see when you look.”
The masterpiece arrived on Tuesday ahead of its public showing at the gallery from July 9 to December 4.
Speaking about seeing the masterpiece for the first time, Mr Ruffer added: “It’s bigger than you think, we’re used to seeing it on a postcard.
“I went on vacation to Croatia three or four years ago and on the main street there was a tattoo shop and you could choose between 15 different things to get tattooed, one of them was Dali’s crucifixion, how about that for fame?” .
The Spanish Gallery is the UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries and was officially opened by the Queen of Spain.
Duncan Dornan, Director of Museums and Collections at Glasgow Life, said: “Exhibiting this prized painting in a new way allows us to broaden our understanding of the incredible artist, Salvador Dalí, who painted this iconic work of art, which remains a favorite today. between Glaswegians and visitors to the city.
“Glasgow’s art collection is considered one of the best in Europe and the loan of key pieces allows people from all over the country to access and enjoy them, which strengthens our reputation.”