The Architectonic Angelus of Millet, 1933
Dali first saw a print of Millet’s work on the corridor walls of his school. The painting focuses on 2 peasants who have stopped for an afternoon prayer. More specifically, the figures are alone in a long stretch of field, heads bowed in reverence with a basket of fruit between them and a wheelbarrow near the female. Upon first seeing the print, Dali sensed that anguish was hidden within the painting. Later, x-rays of the original work revealed that the casket of a small child originally layed between the feet of its parents. The casket was removed to make the work more salable.
Over the years, Dali “saw” these peasants everywhere: in the trees outside of his classroom window and in the formation of objects around him. His obsession inspired him to refer to these figures in several of his works. The most notable is The Architectonic Angelus of Millet (below).
The peasant couple is represented by stone characters somewhat eroded by the sea. Dali’s fear of women is once again apparent here. The dominance of the male is made passive by the female’s threat to his throat. The female stone is held up by a crutch and tree stomp, and therefore has no direct contact with the ground. In Dali’s work, crutches represent support for the inherent weaknesses associated with being human. Underneath the male figure is Dali’s commonly used representation of his young self holding his father’s hand, as they shelter from the aggressive female figure.
In the copy of Millet’s painting in the background here, Dali has given full rein to his notion of the female figure as praying mantis, ready to pounce on her mate. Below is “the peasant” reference. Notice the clenched mouth and aggressive glare of Gala directed at her male double, seated in front of her
We view this painting through a door, held open by a man with a lobster on his head (the conical anamorphoses). Lobsters serve as a sexual symbol for Dali work. Above is a perfect copy of The Angelus, except notice the bleak landscape. Below, “the peasants” are repeated as a smiling Gala (Dali’s wife) and a man staring at an object between them.Gala and The Angelus of Millet Before the Imminent Arrival of the Conical Anamorphoses (Full title). Location: National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa