SalvadorDaliChristofStJohno.jpgGlascow, Scotland - Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali has won The Herald poll to find Scotland's favorite painting Dali's painting won the poll comfortably, gaining 29% of the vote, and four other paintings owned by the city of Glasgow also made it into the top ten.

Lord Provost Liz Cameron said: 'I am thrilled to learn that the Dali has been voted Scotland's favorite painting in competition with such a fantastic array of works from the country's civic and national collections.  We feel that this recognition cements the place that the painting holds in the hearts of people across Scotland, and is due praise for the foresight of Dr Tom Honeyman.  I would like to congratulate all those collections who were represented in the final list of a competition that captured the imagination.' 

Councillor John Lynch, convener of Glasgow City Council's Cultural and Leisure Services committee, said: 'This is great news, a resounding confirmation of what we have long known, that the Dali was the most popular painting in Scotland.  It is just as pleasing to learn that so many works in the outstanding final list from The Herald's poll are from Glasgow's civic collection.'

Salvador Dali's legendary painting Christ of St John of The Cross will return to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum when the building reopens in the summer of 2006 after refurbishment. 

The Dali masterpiece, worth many tens of millions of pounds, first went on show at Kelvingrove on 23 June 1952, and has ever since aroused admiration, criticism and controversy.  The striking angle of the crucified Christ on the Cross, the eerie contrast of light and dark, and the magical and effortless surface effects all make an unforgettable impression on the viewer.

The strange title refers to Dali's principal inspiration for the painting – a pen and ink drawing made by the Spanish Carmelite friar who was canonised as St John of The Cross (1542-1591).  The drawing intrigued Dali when he saw it preserved in the Convent at Avila, as it was made after the Saint had a vision in which he saw the Crucifixion as from above, looking down.  Dali proceeded to paint the Crucifixion set above the rocky harbour of his home village of Port Lligat in Spain, with the enigmatic addition of boats and figures copied from pictures by Velazquez and Le Nain.

The painting caused controversy for a variety of reasons.  Modern art critics felt it was a backward step, as it was painted in such a traditional style and thought it was another notorious stunt by the artist.  Students from Glasgow School of Art presented a petition at the City Chambers, as they felt the money could be better spent encouraging local artists and by providing them with exhibition space. 

The price of £8,200 was considered high, although it was reduced from £12,000 and included copyright, which turned out to be a masterstroke by the Director of Glasgow Museums, Dr Tom J Honeyman.  The reproduction fees from print and postcard sales over the years have justified Honeyman's decision many times over, but the prestige bestowed on Glasgow and the civic art collection has been incalculable.

The painting has been lent to several exhibitions in Europe and America and has been displayed in different locations within Glasgow.  First shown in a corner room at Kelvingrove along with other religious paintings, it was later moved to a special curtained setting on the balcony and then became the closing feature of one of the vaulted colonnades of the upstairs corridors.

A moment of notoriety occurred in 1961 when a mentally disturbed visitor attacked and tore the canvas, but it has been carefully restored since then, to be admired by countless millions.  In 1990 it became the centrepiece of the 'Art of the Church' gallery at Kelvingrove, and in 1993 it was transferred to the new St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art beside Glasgow Cathedral.

The Top ten in The Herald Newspaper Poll
1 Christ of St John of the Cross, Salvador Dali 29%
2 Windows in the West, Avril Paton 18%
3 Flood Tide, Joan Eardley 11%
4 Orange Blind, Cadell 8%
5 Tay Bridge, James McIntosh Patrick 7%
6 Lady Taking Tea, Chardin 7%
7 Rev. Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, Raeburn 6%
8 A Man in Armour, Rembrandt 6%
9 Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, JS Sargent 5%
10 Lady in a Fur Wrap, El Greco 3%

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Picasso on Art

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."