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The Colossus of Rhodes (Dalí)

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The Colossus of Rhodes
Le Colosse de Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes (Dalí).png
ArtistSalvador Dalí
Year1954 (1954)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions68.8 cm × 39 cm
(27.1 in × 15.4 in)
LocationKunstmuseum Bern
AccessionG 82.007

The Colossus of Rhodes is a 1954 oil painting by Salvador Dalí. It is one of a series of seven paintings he created for the 1956 movie Seven Wonders of the World, each depicting one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and shows the Colossus of Rhodes, the ancient statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun, Helios. It was never used for the film, and in 1981 was donated by Georges F. Keller to its present location, the Kunstmuseum Bern.

Dalí's rendering of the Colossus is heavily influenced by a paper, read in 1953 and published in 1956, by Herbert Maryon, a sculptor and conservator at the British Museum. Maryon had proposed a hollow Colossus that was made of hammered bronze plates, and stood aside the harbour rather than astride it. He also suggested that it had incorporated a hanging piece of drapery to give the statue a stable tripod base. All of these ideas were used by Dalí, whose depiction looks remarkably similar to Maryon's.

Background[edit]

The Colossus of Rhodes arose out of Dalí's longstanding fascination with Hollywood.[1] He described the industry as a surrealist medium, and termed Walt Disney, Cecil B. DeMille and the Marx Brothers as "the three great American Surrealists"; in his 1937 essay Surrealism in Hollywood, he declared that "Nothing seems to me more suited to be devoured by the surrealist fire than those mysterious strips of 'hallucinatory celluloid' turned out so unconsciously in Hollywood, and in which we have already seen appear, stupefied, so many images of authentic delirium, chance and dream".[2] For the 1956 Cinerama film Seven Wonders of the World, Dalí was commissioned to create seven paintings: The Colossus of Rhodes,[3] The Pyramids,[4][note 1] The Statue of Olympian Zeus,[5] The Temple of Diana at Ephesus,[6] The Walls of Babylon,[7] and two versions of the same wonder, The Lighthouse of Alexandria[8] and Lighthouse of Alexandria.[9][10][11] In 1955 he also executed a similar copy, Walls of Babylon,[12] and painted the last wonder, with The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.[10][note 2] The paintings for the film were made, yet went unused.[13]

Dalí's rendering of the Colossus is heavily influenced by a 1953 paper by Herbert Maryon,[14] a sculptor and British Museum conservator particularly known for his reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet.[15][16] On 3 December 1953 he presented a paper to the Society of Antiquaries of London, also entitled The Colossus of Rhodes.[17][18] It suggested that the statue was hollow, and stood aside the harbour rather than astride it.[17][18] Made of hammered bronze plates less than 116-inch (1.6 mm) thick, Maryon said, the Colossus would have been supported on its base by a hanging piece of drapery acting as a third point of support.[19][18] Although the paper was not published until 1956,[20] two years after Dalí created his painting, newspaper articles about Maryon's 1953 presentation proliferated quickly and internationally.[18][21] In this context the painting "does not look extremely original."[18] Dalí copied the likeness of the Colossus put forth by Maryon, clearly depicting hammered plates of bronze, and showing the same tripod structure with the statue supported by a piece of drapery.[18]

Description[edit]

The painting is named after its subject, the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun Helios that was erected in the city of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC. The perspective is from below the statue's base, suggesting that the location of the viewer is set in a boat approaching the city, and emphasising the statue's massive size and height.[22] A piece of drapery hangs around the waist of Helios and from his left arm, falling down to touch the ground behind him.[18] The statue appears to be made of bronze, and had a segmented construction entirely composed of numerous individual plates.[18][23] Helios raises his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun that he is the god of, giving "a vaguely Surrealist touch" to Dalí's work.[22] In the lower right is signed "Salvador Dalí / 1954".[3]

Themes[edit]

Dalí's greatest connection with surrealism came before 1940, when his works explored the subconscious and his perception of the world.[24] The Persistence of Memory, one of the works with which he is most identified, came in 1931,[25] representing a decade that saw Dalí firmly within the avant-garde.[26] A move to the United States in 1940 brought new financial pressures, heightening his already marked showmanship and helping to occasion his relationship with Hollywood, and the end of World War II introduced a focus on the historical, scientific, and religious, to Dalí's work.[27]

The Colossus of Rhodes exemplifies Dalí's focus on cinema and the historical and scientific, and the loosening of his grip on surrealism.[22] It is only marginally surrealist—the god of the sun shields himself from his domain—and resembles a movie poster,[22] befitting a work commissioned for a movie.[10] Nor does Dalí offer a particularly original take on the Colossus, which is heavily influenced by Maryon's suggestions.[18]

Provenance[edit]

The painting is in the collection of the Kunstmuseum Bern, where it forms part of the 1981 Georges F. Keller bequest.[3] Its accession number is G 82.007.[28] In the 1980s and 1990s it was exhibited in Europe and North America:[3] at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Madrid during 1983, at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Stuttgart during 1989, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek from 1989 to 1990, and later that year in Montréal, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts.[3]

Several of the other paintings in the Seven Wonders of the World series have come up for sale. The Statue of Olympian Zeus was sold by Sotheby's in 2009 for $482,500,[29] and is now in the collection of the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art.[5] In 2013 Sotheby's also sold The Temple of Diana at Ephesus, for $845,000;[30] it is now in a private collection.[6] The Walls of Babylon was offered for sale by Sotheby's in 2014 with an estimate of £300,000–400,000, but was bought in.[11] Dalí's thematically similar 1955 paintings have also been auctioned. Christie's sold The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus for $1,325,000 in 2016,[10] and Walls of Babylon in 2001 for £168,750.[31]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation catalogue raisonné lists The Pyramids as a 1957 work.[4]
  2. ^ The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation catalogue raisonné does not list The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. On 13 May 2016 it sold for $1,325,000 at Christie's, which led off its description by asserting that "Nicolas and the late Robert Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this work."[10]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Badoud, Nathan (January 2012). "L'image du Colosse de Rhodes". Monuments et mémoires de la fondation Eugène Piot. 91: 5–40. doi:10.3406/piot.2012.1738. open access publication – free to read
  • "The Colossus of Rhodes". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 13 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • de Callataÿ, Godefroid (2006). "The Colossus of Rhodes: Ancient Texts and Modern Representations". In Ligota, Christopher R. & Quantin, Jean-Louis. History of Scholarship: A Selection of Papers from the Seminar on the History of Scholarship Held Annually at the Warburg Institute. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 39–73. ISBN 0-19-928431-8. open access publication – free to read
  • Easby, Jr., Dudley T. (July 1966). "Necrology". American Journal of Archaeology. Archaeological Institute of America. 70 (3): 287. JSTOR 501899. closed access publication – behind paywall
  • King, Elliot H. (2007). Dalí, Surrealism and Cinema. Harpenden: Kamera Books. ISBN 978-1-904048-90-9. open access publication – free to read
  • "The Lighthouse of Alexandria". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Lighthouse of Alexandria". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • Maryon, Herbert (September 1947). "The Sutton Hoo Helmet". Antiquity. XXI (83): 137–144. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00016598.
  • Maryon, Herbert (1956). "The Colossus of Rhodes". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. LXXVI: 68–86. doi:10.2307/629554. JSTOR 629554. closed access publication – behind paywall
  • "The Pyramids". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Salvador Dali (1904–1989): Le mausolée d'Halicarnasse". Christie's. 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Salvador Dali (1904–1989): The Walls of Babylon". Christie's. 2001. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Salvador Dalí: Les Murs de Babylone". Sotheby's. 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Salvador Dalí: Statue de Zeus Olympien". Sotheby's. 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Salvador Dalí: Temple de Diana à Epheseus". Sotheby's. 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • Shanes, Eric (2012). The Life and Masterworks of Salvador Dalí. New York: Parkstone International. ISBN 978-1-78042-879-6. open access publication – free to read
  • "The Statue of Olympian Zeus". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "The Temple of Diana at Ephesus". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "The Walls of Babylon". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read
  • "Walls of Babylon". Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Salvador Dalí. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2018. open access publication – free to read