Surrender of Breda, 1974
Surrender of Breda
Changes in Great Masterpieces
By Paul Chimera
(Mr. Chimera worked directly with Dali Museum founder Reynolds Morse, as the publicity director of the original Dali Museum when it was located in Beachwood, Ohio)
No artist in history was revered by Salvador Dali more than the Spanish master who painted “Surrender of Breda,” the large masterpiece depicted here, and on which Dali deftly made some eye-fooling, surrealistic changes. That artist was Velasquez, who occupied the number one spot in Dali’s list of his favorite artists, along with such other iconic painters as Vermeer and Raphael – both of whom Dali pays homage to in other graphic works from this “Changes in Great Masterpieces” series.
Scholars often cite “Surrender of Breda” as being one of the most purely Spanish paintings ever created. Salvador Dali agreed. Not only was he profoundly inspired by the genius of his 17th century precursor, but he was especially moved by his monumental canvas, which hangs in Madrid’s Prado Museum – a place Dali visited often to study the brushwork of the masters.
Remarkably, this single Velasquez picture figures in not one but two important Dali works. The first instance was in Dali’s huge and extraordinarily complex and beautifully painted canvas, “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus” of 1959. Dali paid homage to the Velasquez painting by borrowing the flags and tall lances in the background of the earlier work and recreating them in the background of “Columbus.”
And, of course, the second instance of “Surrender of Breda’s” influence is in the present lithograph. Notice how Dali cleverly implied the illusion of a tear in the Breda work, down the middle. And then again, showing the same see-through background by virtue of the “hole” in the horse at right.
Below the main image is a small sepia reproduction of “Surrender of Breda,” accompanied by Dali’s sketch of the two main figures from the Velasquez work, one handing the key to the city off to the victor.
What a remarkable piece of Dalinian art, created the same year Dali’s Teatro-Museo Dali (Dali Theatre-Museum) opened in his birth town of Figueras, Spain. A tribute to his favorite artist. Adroit tromp l’ oil (eye-fooling) technique. Whimsical sketching. All coming together as part of what has long been considered one of Dali’s most interesting, inventive and important graphics suites.
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