• oil on canvas
• 64.1 x 50.2 cm
• Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueras
Gala has often been depicted in Dalí's works. One might even say that she is the only woman whose face and silhouette appear there incessantly; the painter says, "She is the rarest being to see, the superstar who cannot in any case be compared with La Callas or Greta Garbo, because one may see them often, whereas Gala is an invisible being, the anti-exhibitionist par excellence. At Salvador Dalí's home, there are two prime ministers; one is my wife, Gala, and the other is Salvador Dalí. Salvador Dalí and Gala are the two unique beings capable of mathematically moderating and exalting my divine madness."
This portrait belongs to the artist's classical period. It was painted in America a little before the end of the Second World War. "Started in 1944," Dalí writes in the commentary of the catalogue for his exhibition in the Bignou Gallery in 1945, "it took me six months of working three hours a day to finish this portrait. I named this painting Galarina because Gala is for me what La Fornarina was to Raphael. And, without premeditation, here is the bread again. A rigorous and perspicacious analysis brings to light the resemblance of Gala's crossed arms with the sides of the basket of bread, her breast seeming to be the extremity of the crust. I had already painted Gala with two cutlets on her shoulder to transcribe the expression of my desire to devour her. It was at the time of the raw flesh of my imagination. Today, now that Gala has risen in the heraldic hierarchy of my nobility, she has become my basket of bread."
This picture was painted in the United States in 1944-45, three years after Dalí had married Gala in a civil ceremony. It was being done at the moment when the artist was claiming to have discovered for the first time in his life the real way to paint; in other words, with over- and underpainting. For him, this is infinitely more subtle in its tonalities than the pictures painted before. He links it already to the period of Leda Atomica, when he was doing all the technical research work related to matter. This research absorbed him so much that he ended by not paying attention to conversations and even to remarks that Gala made to him. In recalling this episode he tells the following anecdote: "It was exactly during this period that I used to wake up at night to place a drop of varnish, more or less, on a painting. It was complete lunacy. Then Gala - we were in the midst of the war at the very time when the Americans were leaving for the Pacific - said to me, 'Really, what would you do if one day the same thing happened to you as to these boys who must leave for the war in airplanes every day to go and fight? It seems to me that beside this your technical problems are not so insoluble! It is much less dramatics And I replied, 'If they should do such a thing to me, if they insisted on leaving, on parachuting' - because at the time there was some possibility that foreigners would be enlisted - 'well, in that case, I would not let YOU leave.' I had completely forgotten that it was a question of my going and was convinced that if anyone had to go to war, it would be Gala !"
The bracelet she is wearing on her wrist was a Faberge creation of Mogul inspiration that Dalí liked immensely. He used it placed around his wife's ankle in the painting Original Sin, which may be seen today in the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. The serpent,. along with all of Gala's jewelry, was stolen a few years later from the bedroom of the hotel in which the couple was staying in California.