Art Religion in Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross

The Kelvin Grove Museum web page points out that the small boat and figures are copied from artists Velazquez, the16th century Spanish artist whom Dali claimed as an inspiration, and Le Nain., a 16th-century French artist.Sometimes called ‘The Crucifixion of Saint John of the Cross’, it is unique, in part from its perspective, and because of the reason, it was painted as it is. It is not meant to depict the crucifixion as it was seen by the various onlookers. This is shown in more than the angle from which the figure is viewed. The whole, seen from distance, is in the shape of an hourglass – perhaps a reminder that this, although a dream, is a depiction of an actual event.The work has been, ever since it went on display in 1952, the source of much admiration, controversy, and criticism it is not just another crucifixion. The unusual viewpoint is from a similar angle to that shown in the earlier drawing by St John of the Cross, his only surviving known artwork, kept in the Carmelite convent at Avila. It is not the usual viewpoint of worshippers before a depiction of the crucifixion as depicted by earlier artists, both in medieval times and in the 20th century as in Marc Chagall’s ‘The White Crucifixion’ of 1936. This is another important work as, with the presence of a Jewish prayer shawl, it unusually serves as a reminder that Jesus was a Jew.Schweig in 2000 suggested that the painting is from the bride ( i.e. the church as the bride of Christ, Bible, Revelation 22) looking down upon her tortured bridegroom. Although there are several figures, there is no one either worshipping or praying. As in the earlier work by St John of the Cross, there is a total absence of many of the items associated with the crucifixion, and sacred depictions of it, i.e. the crown of thorns, the soldiers, the blood and nails. No halo, not even a vague one to tell the onlooker that this is someone very special.