Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
|Type||Oil on wood|
|Dimensions||51 cm × 40.5 cm (20 in × 15.9 in)|
|Location||Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid|
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944) is a surrealist painting by Salvador Dalí. A short, alternate title for the painting is Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee. It was painted in 1944, while Dalí and his wife, Gala, were living in America.
In this “hand-painted dream photograph” — as Dalí generally called his paintings — we find a seascape of distant horizons and calm waters, perhaps Port Lligat, amidst which Gala is the subject of the scene. Next to the naked body of the sleeping woman, which levitates above a flat rock that floats above the sea, Dalí depicts two suspended droplets of water and a pomegranate, a Christian symbol of fertility and resurrection. Above the pomegranate flies a bee, an insect that traditionally symbolizes the Virgin.
In the upper left of the painting a fish bursts out of the pomegranate, and in turn spews out a tiger who then spews out another tiger and a rifle with a bayonet that will sting Gala in the arm. Above them an elephant with long flamingo legs, found in other compositions of the period such as Dalí's The Temptations of St. Anthony, carries on its back an obelisk — like Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk in the Piazza Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. 
Themes and symbolism
||This section is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states the Wikipedia editor's particular feelings about a topic, rather than the opinions of experts. (April 2011)|
The bayonet, as a symbol of the stinging bee, may thus represent the woman's abrupt awakening from her otherwise peaceful dream. This is an example of Sigmund Freud's influence on surrealist art and Dalí's attempts to explore the world of dreams in a dreamscape.
The elephant is a distorted version of the Piazza della Minerva sculpture Elephant and Obelisk by Gian Lorenzo Bernini facing the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The smaller pomegranate floating between two droplets of water may symbolize Venus, especially because of the heart-shaped shadow it casts. It may also be used as a Christian symbol of fertility and resurrection. This female symbolism may contrast with the phallic symbolism of the threatening creatures.
In 1962, Dalí said his painting was intended "to express for the first time in images Freud's discovery of the typical dream with a lengthy narrative, the consequence of the instantaneousness of a chance event which causes the sleeper to wake up. Thus, as a bar might fall on the neck of a sleeping person, causing them to wake up and for a long dream to end with the guillotine blade falling on them, the noise of the bee here provokes the sensation of the sting which will awaken Gala." The guillotine anecdote refers to a dream reported by Alfred Maury in Le sommeil et les rêves and related by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams.
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