Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Let’s start the year with Salvador Dali

Happy New Year to everyone (except Bob Sherman).

After the break, time to get things rolling again, and I think something as significant as Dali’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ makes a good starting point.

Not the usual view, but one I spotted recently thanks to the lighting arrangement used in Kelvingrove.

Painted in 1951, and (would you believe, controversially) purchased by Glasgow in 1952 for £8,200  after Dali asked £12,000. Currently estimated at £60 million, the council rejected an offer of £80 million from the Spanish Government. Having purchased the copyright with the painting, the image reportedly generates about £2,000 a year for the city.

This means Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí (which owns the reproduction rights for the majority of Dali’s work) missed out on this one.

In 1952 post-war Glasgow, people believed £8,250 (£225,000 today) could be better spent. They said it was old-fashioned and that the money would be better spent on the city’s educational institutions.

Even art students didn’t want it! They petitioned the council, opposing the purchase and insisting local artists were given more exposure in its exhibition space.

In fact, it wasn’t even being purchased with council funds.

The money came from a fund set up using profits of the Kelvingrove International Exhibition of 1901, which was used to buy numerous works of art for Glasgow’s museums.

Millions of people have come to see it over the years.

Vandal attacks

The painting has been attacked on two separate occasions.

The first was at noon on Saturday, 22 April 1961, when a mentally disturbed visitor attacked it with a large stone.

The man broke through the barrier around the painting and used a piece of rough sandstone to slash horizontally and vertically at the surface, then grabbed the canvas and pulled it down with their hands, causing a tear of around eight feet.

Newspapers of the time carried the headline ‘Dali Painting: Bearded Man is held for inquiry”, and reported that a 22-year-old man had been remanded in custody on suspicion of damaging the painting.

Kelvingrove’s brilliant restoration team used wax resin to repair the tear), and the painting was back on display within a few months.

The next attack came during the 1980s, when a protective Perspex cover placed in front of the painting was shot with an airgun. There seems to be very little information about this incident – if you come across any details, we’d love to hear about them.

There’s no perspex cover today, just a simple cord to mark the line visitors should not cross.

Four video cameras also watch over the painting and its room.

I suspect there are hidden security features too, as I overheard staff discussing security around the painting, apparently ‘things’ may happen suddenly if anyone strays past the cord – but they didn’t say anything specific.

Here, you can see the cord together with the repair to the huge tears inflicted on the canvas, highlighted by the angle of the lighting, thankfully not visible when looking directly at the work.

One of the cameras can also be seen to the left of the frame.

Repair to Christ of St John of the Cross

Repair to Christ of St John of the Cross

Another look, closer, with less glare.

Repair to Christ of St John of the Cross Closer

Repair to Christ of St John of the Cross Closer


02/01/2019 - Posted by | council, photography | , , , ,

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