Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops in Equilibrium upon Her Shoulder

Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops in Equilibrium upon Her Shoulder

"Portrait of Gala with two lamb chops in equilibrium upon her shoulder" (1933) is one of those masterpieces of the young Salvador Dali that you can admire endlessly!


The first half of the thirties of the last century is the time of Dali the technician, Dali the miniaturist, who often works on wood and reproduces on an often very tiny surface many of the smallest details almost indistinguishable to the naked eye.

Salvador Dali himself, according to the recollections of people close to him at that time, used magnifying devices when working.  His young hand was strong and his brush was accurate as a surgeon's scalpel.

In full degree, all of the above applies to the miniature "Portrait of Gala with two lamb chops keeping balance on her shoulder" (1933), painted in oil on wood panel.

This precious little thing, like many others of the same period, has an interesting effect: if you first encountered it in a reproduction, based on the detail of objects, it will probably seem to you that you are dealing with a fairly large canvas - however, looking at the numbers indicating the true dimensions of the work (6.80 X 8.80 cm), you will understand that you were deeply mistaken.

It is best, of course, to watch the original, which is in the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres - to look and wonder: how, how did he manage to do it?


Interestingly, when working on this wonderful miniature, Dali did not start from the original (that is, Gala), but from his and his wife's joint photograph - where Gala, we must pay tribute to the photographer, turned out much better than in reality, and looks downright sultry seductive beauty.

It is quite possible, however, that the photo simply showed her true inner essence, and the photographer captured it in time.


By the way, in the future, Dali often used Gala's photographs when painting her image, which suggests that in terms of posing, Elena Dmitrievna (her real name) was far from being as accommodating as Ana-Maria Dali, the artist's younger sister, was in her time.

The entire space of the miniature is literally permeated with the sun, from the hot touches of which Gala seems to experience an almost fleshly pleasure, and also here is the beloved by Salvador Dali Port Lligat, where the artist had his nest, which he lovingly transformed, equipped and expanded over the decades - and where he painted most of his famous works.

Those who have visited Port Lligat, where the house-Museum of Salvador Dali is located, will immediately recognize the dilapidated well depicted in the miniature which has quite safely survived to this day.

And people familiar with Dali's work as a whole immediately recognize in the miniature another character wandering from work to work - a boy with a hoop hiding behind a well - this is one of the options for a self-portrait, to which Dali returned until the end of the 60s.

Regarding lamb - let us give the floor to Dali himself: “Arriving in Port ligat, I painted a portrait of Gal with two chops swinging in balance on her shoulder.

The meaning of this, as I later learned, was that instead of eating her, I had decided to eat a pair of raw chops instead. The chops were in effect the expiatory victims of abortive sacrifice - like Abraham's ram, and William Tell's apple. (...) My edible, intestinal and digestive representations at this period assumed an increasingly insistent character. I wanted to eat everything, and I planned the building of a large table made entirely of hard-boiled egg so that it could be eaten".

In other words, whenever Dali in those years looked at his beloved wife, he felt such lust that he was ready to devour her whole, however, due to the impossibility of this, he was forced to sublimate this desire by eating mutton.


More seriously - and Dali himself has repeatedly spoken about this - his sublimation was realized in his work, as, in fact, it should be, and how his idol, Sigmund Freud, whom Dali called his father, wrote about it ( read original text in Russian)

The author of the article is Sergei Zakharov, a writer and tour guide. When reprinting materials, please indicate the active link to the source. You can learn more about our books and buy them in the "Where and what to read" section. We invite you to our tours of the Dali museums in Catalonia. revealing secrets, debunking myths, telling the truth - we promise full and deep immersion in the amazing Universe of Salvador Dali! 

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