Retrato de Gala con turbante (Portrait of Gala with Turban)

Salvador Dalí

Figueras, Girona, Spain, 1904 - 1989
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    56 x 50 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • Salvador Dalí Bequest, 1990

Enigmatic, elegant, cultured, a freethinker and free spirit, Elena Ivanovna Diakonovan – the real name of the Russian woman known as Gala Dalí – was, above all else, the painter’s inseparable companion and muse. Embodying the concept of the Surrealist woman, she was initially branded as manipulative by some Salvador Dalí biographers, while other subsequent studies saw her as the first “post-modern heroine”, as a silent advocate, through her life and circumstances, of equality for the female sex. In his autobiographical work Confesiones inconfesables (The Unspeakable Confessions, Bruguera, 1975), Salvador Dalí evoked his first encounters with Gala: “I had just found my kindred spirit. […] Gala listened to me. She adopted me. I was her newborn, her child, her son, her lover, the man for her to love. She opened the sky to me and we both sat upon the clouds, far from the world.” Moreover, he wrote: “I love Gala more than my mother, more than my father, than Picasso and even more than money”. Dalí outwardly displayed this devotion by painting her time and again, and went one step further as he signed his works by adding the name of his beloved to his own name. On canvas his wife took on the different roles undertaken in her relationship with her husband, for instance in works like El Ángelus de Gala (The Angelus of Gala, 1935, The Museum of Modern Art, New York) and One Second Before the Awakening from a Dream Provoked by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate (c. 1944, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid). In this portrait from the Museo Reina Sofía, Gala is conveyed as the complete focal point of the work, her face silhouetted against a totally neutral black background that is devoid of any motif that could distract the viewer as they contemplate the scene’s true heroine. On this occasion, her watchful eyes appear primed to detect any potential danger that could pose a threat to Dalí.

Paloma Esteban Leal