Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Property From a Private West Coast Collection 
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

Allegory of Sunset Air

Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Allegory of Sunset Air
signed and dated 'Gala Salvador Dalí ...' (lower right)
oil on canvas
12½ x 8 5/8 in. (31.8 x 21.9 cm.)
Painted circa 1940-1941
Dalzell Hatfield Fine Paintings, Los Angeles (acquired from the artist, 1941).
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, July 1944.
Los Angeles, Dalzell Hatfield Fine Paintings, Salvador Dalí, September-October 1941, no. 9.
Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, Masters of Modern Spanish Art, January-March 1969.
Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, Out of Sight: From San Diego Collections, March-April 1972.


Robert and Nicolas Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

Dalí escaped from Europe during World War II, spending 1940-48 in the United States. This period also marks his movement towards a new type of painting focusing on a preoccupation with science, religion, and mythology. Allegory of Sunset Air, stands at the cusp of this transition-though the work depicts a celestial metaphor for a day coming to an end, it nonetheless employs much of Dalí's traditional symbolism.

The crutch is one of Dalí's most important images and features in many of his works. His fetish with the item stemmed from his youthful desire to place a crutch under the breast of a woman whom he saw working in the fields. It is first and foremost a symbol of reality and an anchor in the ground of the real world, providing spiritual and physical support for inadequacy in life. Dalí himself says he finds the crutch to be "the significance of life and death...a support for inadequacy." (The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, p. 66) In the present work crutches serve not only as the femurs of the central figure, supporting the mast and sails which draw the figure into the air, but also as small buttresses separating the gashes in the flesh of the right thigh.

The figure's right leg disturbingly rendered as slabs of meat is also consistent with Dalí's long standing gastronomic interests. Dalí is well-known for his fascination with food, especially Catalan cuisine. Here, the melon-shaped buttocks of the central figure, echoed in the ripe anatomy of many of the muses, references the abundance of the fruit in Dalí's native coastal region of Spain.