Dalí in Figueras

In Spring 2009 we visited Figueras, in the province of Girona in Spain, which is the birthplace of the Spanish Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquis of Púbol (1904 - 1989). Our destination was the the museum Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí. Originally the museum was a theatre when Dalí was a child (and he had his first exhibition in the lobby at the age of 15, so he was precocious and also probably spoiled). After the theatre was bombed in the Spanish Civil War it was rebuild by Dalí as a museum dedicated to his art. Today it houses the single largest and most diverse collection of works by Salvador Dalí. He is buried in a crypt in the basement of the museum.

Dalí is perhaps one of the most widely known Surrealist painters of the 20th century. Although originally hailed as a talented genius and the ‘poster boy’ for Surrealism, he was later shunned as being too eccentric and self-absorbed.

When the museum was opened in September 1974 is was so popular that it was said to be a kind of organised chaos. Today the museum remains popular, but is now well organised and easy to visit.


Below we can see the characteristic West elevation of the museum with a perspective view of the wall encrusted with life-sized casts of loaves of Catalan bread. Bread figures often in Dalí sculptures, e.g. in the museum there is a painting of a loaf of bread hanging over a golden sculpture of a loaf sitting in a real bread basket. Dalí was very into symbolism, and so it should be noted that bread is of course a symbol of Christ’s body and hence his sacrifice and resurrection (not forgetting its importance in the feeding of the 5000). Even more fundamentally bread was the symbol of mans move from hunter-gather to settler, and thus bread is present in almost every religion. On top of the walls are dinosaur-size white eggs, and of course eggs are associated with the beginning of life, symbolise creation and are strongly associated with revival and rebirth (and hence Spring and Easter) and the Christian concept of resurrection. In addition big eggs are strangely enough taken to symbolise virgin birth.  

Above we can see the West Façade and main entrance to museum with roof statues holding loaves (bread again).

In the forecourt there is the monument to the Catalan writer and philosopher Francesc Pujols i Morgades with figures from his tales. Dalí took after his farther in being a fervent Catalan nationalist and he exploited every opportunity to promote the Catalan cause and Catalan intellectuals. And just behind the homage to Pujols we can see another of Dalí’s iconographic motifs - the hydrogen atom.

Pati de Butaques (courtyard)

“Cadillac plujós”, the bronze by Ernst Fuchs “Esther Queen”, and in the background the Trajan’s Column made from car tyres (the Cadillac is the 4th reproduction)

Pati Interior

niches with 21 “cold inexpressive” 1920‘s Art deco style gilded mannequins

Monumental canvas “The Labyrinth” (1947) was restored in 2005. It is actually a backdrop for the Labyrinth ballet and is a tempera on canvas measuring 9 x 13 metres.

“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook.

At seven I wanted to be Napoleon.

And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.”

Salvador Dalí

last updated: 2 June 2010

“Everyone should consider the museum as a work of art in itself, ... full of information, but totally devoid of exhaustive explanations”  Salvador Dalí

Gala’s boat crowns what is said to be the largest surrealist monument in the world

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”  Salvador Dalí

Esther was a Jewish queen of the Persian king Xerxes I and her story is the basis for the celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition