Shirley Temple, The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of the Cinema in Her Time

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Shirley Temple,
The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster
of the Cinema in Her Time
Dali Temple image.jpg
ArtistSalvador Dalí
TypeGouache, pastel and collage on cardboard
Dimensions75 cm × 100 cm (30 in × 39 in)
LocationMuseum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
A carved sphinx as park decoration from La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia

Shirley Temple, The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of the Cinema in Her Time (or Shirley Temple, The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of Contemporary Cinema), also known as the Barcelona Sphinx,[1] is a 1939 artwork in gouache, pastel and collage on cardboard, by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. It measures 75 cm × 100 cm (29 12 in × 39 12 in). It is housed in the Netherlands, at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam's principal art gallery.

The painting depicts the child star Shirley Temple as a sphinx. Shirley Temple's head, taken from a newspaper photograph, is superimposed on the body of a red lioness with breasts and white claws. On top of the head is a vampire bat. Surrounding the sphinx are a human skull and other bones, suggesting her latest kill. At the bottom of the painting is a trompe-l'œil label that reads: "Shirley!. at last in Technicolor."[2] The painting has been described as a satire on the sexualization of child stars by Hollywood.[3][4]

The painting was first shown at an exhibition held at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, from March 21 to April 18, 1939 (although the exhibition catalogue does not mention the painting, an article in the New York Times mentions its presence).[5] It has also been exhibited in 1983 at the Palau Reial de Pedralbes in Barcelona, in 1985 at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Charleroi, and again in Barcelona in 2004, at the CaixaForum gallery.[1] From June 1 to September 9, 2007 it was one of around 100 Dalí works on display at the Tate Modern in London as part of the "Dalí and Film" exhibition.[6]


  1. ^ a b Dali catalogue (accessed 1 June 2007)
  2. ^ Salvador Dalí - the first pop star of painting Tate (accessed 1 June 2007)
  3. ^ Most sacred monsters Mark Lawson, The Guardian, 1 June 2007 (accessed 1 June 2007)
  4. ^ Baby Bitches From Hell: Monstrous-Little Women in Film UCLA (accessed via Internet Archive 11 Feb 2014)
  5. ^ Cobb, Jane (March 26, 1939). "Living and Leisure". The New York Times. Not even his most fervent admirers have recommended Dalí for right after breakfast, but visitors begin to show up at 9 A. M.
  6. ^ Dali's silver screen surrealism explored in new London show[permanent dead link] Yahoo! News in Canada (accessed June 1, 2007))

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