Surrender of Breda
Changes in Great Masterpieces
By Paul Chimera
(Mr. Chimera worked directly with Dalí Museum founder Reynolds Morse, as the publicity director of the original Dalí Museum when it was located in Beachwood, Ohio)
No artist in history was revered by Salvador Dalí more than the Spanish master who painted “Surrender of Breda,” the large masterpiece depicted here, and on which Dalí deftly made some eye-fooling, surrealistic changes. That artist was Velasquez, who occupied the number one spot in Dalí’s list of his favorite artists, along with such other iconic painters as Vermeer and Raphael – both of whom Dalí 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 Dalí 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 Dalí visited often to study the brushwork of the masters.
Remarkably, this single Velasquez picture figures in not one but two important Dalí works. The first instance was in Dalí’s huge and extraordinarily complex and beautifully painted canvas, “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus” of 1959. Dalí 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 Dalí 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 Dalí’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 Dalínian art, created the same year Dalí’s Teatro-Museo Dalí (Dalí 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 Dalí’s most interesting, inventive and important graphics suites.
© 2009 The Salvador Dalí Society®. All rights reserved
© Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation All Rights to Dalí’s Image, likeness, and works of art.
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