The Metamorphosis of Narcissus
Salvador Dalí
The Metamorphosis of Narcissus
Salvador Dalí, (Spanish Catalan, Surrealism, 1904-1989): The Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937. Oil on canvas, 51.1 x 78.1 cm. Tate Modern, London, UK. © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2002. © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

'This painting is Dalí's interpretation of the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a youth of great beauty who loved only himself and broke the hearts of many lovers. The gods punished him by letting him see his own reflection in a pool. He fell in love with it, but discovered he could not embrace it and died of frustration. Relenting, the gods immortalised him as the narcissus (daffodil) flower. For this picture Dalí used a meticulous technique which he described as 'hand-painted colour photography' to depict with hallucinatory effect the transformation of Narcissus, kneeling in the pool, into the hand holding the egg and flower. Narcissus as he was before his transformation is seen posing in the background. The play with 'double images' sprang from Dalí's fascination with hallucination and delusion.

This was Dalí's first painting to be made entirely in accordance with the paranoiac critical method, which the artist described as a 'Spontaneous method of irrational knowledge, based on the critical-interpretative association of the phenomena of delirium’ ("The Conquest of the Irrational," published in "The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí," New York 1942).’ (Tate Modern, London;

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