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Artwork Details

Portrait of My Dead Brother

Salvador Dalí
Date Made
Oil on canvas
Image: 69 in x 69 in
Accession ID Number
Credit Line
Collection of The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, FL (USA); Purchased by the Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc.
In the USA ©Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc. St. Petersburg, FL 2022 / Worldwide rights ©Salvador Dalí. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (Artists Rights Society), 2022; Photo © David Deranian, 2021
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Supplemental material


This unusual painting refers to one of the key stories in the artist’s life, his relationship with his dead brother. While Salvador was named after his father, Salvador Dalí i Cusí, he also shared this name with his brother, Salvador Galo Anselmo Dalí, who died of infectious stomach inflammation in 1903.

Dalí felt his parents wanted him to be a replacement for his dead brother, so he cultivated his eccentric behavior to prove that he was different. Dalí often referred to himself and his dead brother as Castor and Pollux, the Roman twins born of Leda. Dalí felt that although his brother was dead, he was still a specter in his life.

Dalí wrote a brief, elusive description of this work when it was first exhibited. “The Vulture, according to the Egyptians and Freud, represents my mother’s portrait. The cherries represent the molecules, the dark cherries create the visage of my dead brother, the sun-lighted cherries create the image of Salvador living thus repeating the great myth of the Dioscures Castor and Pollux.”

The source for the brother’s face is currently unknown, although it is believed to be from a newspaper photograph. The style in which Dalí painted his brother resembles an enlarged photograph, with the large dots resembling the Ben Day dots used in photogravure. This also recalls the contemporaneous work of Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, suggesting new interests in Dalí’s world.

Exhibition History:

1963, New York, M. Knoedler @ Co., Inc., “Dalí : Hommage à Crick et Watson”
1964, Kyoto, Municipal Art Gallery, “Salvador Dalí, 1964”
1964, Nagoya, Prefectural Museum of Art, “Salvador Dalí, 1964”
1964, Tokyo, Hotel Prince Gallery, “Salvador Dalí, 1964”
1965, New York, Gallery of Modern Art, “Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965”
1969, San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, “Legacy of Spain-20th Century”
1973, Stockholm, Moderna Museet, “Salvador Dalí, 1973”
1973, Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, “Rétrospective Salvador Dalí”
1974, Frankfurt, Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, “Salvador Dalí, 1974”
1974, New York, Knoedler Gallery, "Changes"
1979, Paris, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, “Salvador Dalí Retrospective 1920-1980”
1980, London, Tate Gallery, “Salvador Dalí, 1980”
1981 & 1982, Tokyo, Osaka, Kitakyusha and Hiroshima, Japan, “Salvador Dalí, 1981-82”
1989, Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, "Salvador Dalí"
1989, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, “Salvador Dalí Retrospective”
1989, Zurich, Kunsthaus, “Salvador Dalí Retrospective”
1990, Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, “Salvador Dali”
1998, Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol Museum of Art, “Dali at the Warhol”
1998, Liverpool, Tate Gallery, “Dali: A Mythology”
1998, New York, Solomon R. Gugenheim Museum
2000, Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, “Dalí's Optical Illusions”
2000, Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, “Dalí's Optical Illusions”
2000, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, “Dalí's Optical Illusions”
2000, Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, "Hypermental : wahnhafte Wirklichkeit 1950 - 2000 von Salvador Dali bis Jeff Koons"
2001, Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, "Hypermental : wahnhafte Wirklichkeit 1950 - 2000 von Salvador Dali bis Jeff Koons"
2004, Venezia, Palazzo Grassi, "Dali Retrospective"
2005, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, more