Thursday, April 9, 2009
Christ of St John of the Cross
Salvador Dali's "Christ of St John of the Cross
Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ caused controversy and consternation when it was first purchased for the city of Glasgow, Scotland in 1951 by the then Director of Glasgow Museums, Dr. Tom Honeyman.
An art dealer with an open-minded approach to art appreciation, Honeyman saw the picture for sale at the Lefevre Gallery in London and was convinced that it was a picture that Glasgow must have.
Although the catalogue price was £12,000, Honeyman used his connections and undoubted charm and beat this down to £8,200, which just happened to be the last of the funds left from the profits in the 1901 Exhibition Fund.
In addition, he secured the copyright to the image from the artist, which was (and is) often difficult to do.
But instead of Honeyman being carried shoulder high in victory at his coup, there was an instant outcry from almost every quarter. The art establishment regarded Dali’s super-realism and uncharacteristic choice of subject as ephemeral, cynical and lacking any depth or meaning. Students at the Glasgow School of Art protested that the cash should have been spent on young local artists.
Even highly esteemed artists such as Augustus John deplored the ‘mad price’ being paid to a living painter.
Honeyman, however, was proved not only right but also spectacularly astute. The public flocked to see the painting.
Such is the polarized emotional response that visitors experience when viewing the painting that it has been attacked twice. However, Kelvingrove conservators expertly repaired the damage, and the non-professional eye would now find it hard to spot the wounds.
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- I grew up in Chautauqua County, NY. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennyslvania in 1981 with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalworking. I have been married 31 years. I currently run a small business with my husband. We both enjoy the outdoors and animals a great deal and live on a tiny farm in Western, NY.