Top 10 paintings of Salvador Dali

Despite being born in a small town outside Barcelona to a middle-class family, Salvador Dali found inspiration from the surrounding of Catalan environs and the landscapes which are later reflected in most of his paintings.

With the visual representations of Dali’s thoughts and ideas through the painting, he was able to gain pride and fame all over throughout his painting career.

They are famous for its unusual appeal and creation of illusions for the viewers. They also have the use of bright and eye-catching colours.

Out of all his masterpieces, the persistence of memory is considered to be his most celebrated art piece as well as the most famous artwork in Surrealism. It depicts the childhood surroundings of the artist in an autobiographical form.

Paintings such as Crucifixion, Swans Reflecting Elephants, The Madonna of Port Light, and many more are amongst the most well-known art pieces of Salvador Dali.

Here is the list of most significant paintings of Salvador Dali with details.

10. Crucifixion

Year:1953 - 1954
Location:Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Dimensions: 76.5in X 48.7in

The metaphysical painting, Crucifixion -also known as Corpus Hyercubus, was completed in the year 1953. It is an oil in canvas with the measurements of 76.5in X 48.7in.

This famous artwork of Dali was announced to be painted by Dali to the public on March 27, 1953, after he returned from New York. He told he would be portraying a sensational exploding Christ which would be hypercubic and nuclear.

The art piece, Crucifixion has been inspired by classical elements, mathematics, and science which include some noticeable features like the drapery of the clothing, use of lighting enveloping Christ theatrically, and also giving some traditional Biblical scene.

Unlike all other paintings of Crucifixion, Dali has depicted Christ upon the net of the hypercube, and the title Corpus refers both to the geometric figures and body of Christ, symbolizing the link between religion-science-mathematics.

Dali has also depicted his wife, Gala on the bottom left of the painting as Mary Magdalene, who is shown looking up at Christ. It is made so to show the union between the development of hypercubic octahedron with the human level of the cube.

This famous painting of Dali is located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, today.

9.  Landscape with Butterflies

Year:1956 - 1957
Location:Private Collection
Dimensions:48in X 36in

The masterpiece, Landscape with Butterflies was completed in the year 1957. It is an oil in canvas with the dimensions of 48in X 36in.

The painting depicts two butterflies ready to fly but with no movement shown yet. They are shown to be in a static position at the edge of a rock as if caught and kept to be observed. 

The landscape looks like a desert, and the combination of butterflies and desert makes the painting look like a dream-like landscape. A ray of light from the right side keeps attention upon the butterflies.

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With the use of strong orange and blue colours and the unequal size of the butterflies, the artwork is made intriguing, eccentric, and one of the most popular images of Salvador Dali.

Numerous paintings of Dali include the use of butterflies, but all the paintings are different from each other with some different backgrounds or concepts.

This painting is kept in Dali Theatre and Museum today. 

8. Galatea of the Spheres

Source: Wikipedia
Location:Dali Theatre and Museum Figueres, Spain
Dimensions:25.59in X 21.25in

Galatea of the Spheres was painted in the year 1952 in an oil canvas with the measurements of 25.59 in X 21.25in.

This famous painting of Dali depicts his wife, Gala’s bust with the composition of a matrix sphere suspended in space representing the atomic particles.

Since the time of 1945’s nuclear explosion, Dali was greatly influenced by nuclear physics, so for him, an atom is the favourite topic for thoughts.

With the thought of reconciling nuclear physics with his renewed faith in Catholicism, he has attempted to make his painting a masterpiece with the inclusion of atomic physics and religion.

The painting has an unusual appeal which shows the shadow of a series of balls with two separate small planets, the nose outlined clearly on the oval-shaped face, and the perfect combination of colour enchants the viewer.

Today, this unusually appealing painting is placed in the Dali Theatre and Museum Figueres, Spain.

7. Raphaelesque Head Exploding

Location:Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburg -UK
Dimensions:16.93in X 12.99in

One of the most celebrated artworks, Raphaelesque Head Exploding, was painted in the year 1951. It is in the oil in canvas medium with the measurements of 16.92in X 12.99in.

This painting of Dali was also inspired by the 1945’s atomic explosion. It depicts some appealing shapes that form the solid and phallic-shaped head looking like horns of rhinoceros. 

The halo and brown clouds on the upper area of the painting resemble the images from the atomic explosion (1945 ) and the female face which has a tender touch with thin halo look is considered to be similar to the face of Madonna by Raphael.

The topmost part, the skull is based upon the inner side of the Pantheon building’s dome, which is in Rome.

It has a mixture of series of acts that took place in the past with the balance of classical icon shattered by the advent of nuclear arms which is mainly portrait via the shattered head.

Today the masterpiece is placed in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburg, UK.

6. Swans Reflecting Elephants

Location:Private Collection
Dimensions:20.08in X 30.31in

The surreal painting, Swans Reflecting Elephants, was painted in the year 1937. It is in the oil in canvas medium with the dimensions of 20.08in X 30.31in which is from the Paranoiac-critical period.

The spontaneous method used in this painting has a double image giving the effect of hallucination and visual illusions, which is one of the significant talents of Dali.

This painting depicts the reflection of the Elephant in a lake creating a double image with the mirror-shaped hand on the right side of the picture. It has three swans in front of the bleak and the reflection of the leafless trees. 

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The unusual parts of this portrait are- the neck of the swan looks like the trunk of the elephant, the body of swan looks like the body of the elephant, and the tree looks like the legs of the elephant. 

The Catalan landscape and stillness of water are also depicted in the background of the painting with the use of fiery fall colours and the use of creative brushwork. 

Today, the painting with visual illusion is kept in a private collection.

5. The Persistence of Memory

Source: Wikipedia
Location:Museum of Modern Art, New York
Dimensions:9.5in X 13in

The Persistence of Memory was completed in the year 1931. It is in the oil in canvas medium with the dimensions of 9.5in X 13in and is considered as the most celebrated paintings of Salvador Dali.

Salvador Dali got inspired to paint this painting after he was thrown out of his house by his father and had to live with his wife, Gala.

It depicts the iconic fluidity of time with the series of melting watches which are inspired by a surrealist perception of the melting of Camembert cheese in the sun.

The desire to flip reality with the unreal dreamscapes is shown through the use of hard and soft objects. The melting watches are surrounded by a swarm of ants who are hungry for the decay and processes of putrefaction. 

Dali has painted himself at the centre of the painting as the melting flesh with the concept of reflecting his immortality against the rocky cliffs of his Catalonian house.

Today this masterpiece is placed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

4.The Madonna of Port Lligat

Source: Wikipedia

Location:Haggerty Museum of Art Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA
Dimensions:19.3in X 14.8in

The Madonna of Port Lligat was painted in the year 1949. It is in the oil in canvas medium with the measurements of 19.3in X 14.8in and is considered to mark the beginning of a new period in the artwork. 

The painting depicts the eucharistic bread, which is made visible through a hole in the centre of the body of the Christ with the diagonal lines indicating the point of intersection and middle of the painting.

In the centre of the painting, Madonna is shown seating with baby christ on her lap and the right side of the portrait, the cuttlefish angles are depicted.

Dali’s wife posed the image of Madonna, Gala and a little boy named Juan Figueras posed for the little Christ.

Today, the painting is placed in the Haggerty Museum of Art Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the USA.

3.The Burning Giraffe

Source: Wikimedia

Location:Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Dimensions:13.8in X 10.6in

The Burning Giraffe was painted in the year 1937 in oil in a panel. It was painted before his exile in the US(1940-1948) and had the dimensions of 13.8in X 10.6in.

This painting depicts the deep blue sky with an atmosphere of twilight. Two female figures are shown in the foreground out of which one has the drawers opening from her body like a chest.

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The figures of female have undefined shapes like a melted clock which is protruding from behind them with support by an object like a crutch.

The face and forearms are stripped down to the muscular tissue under their skin, and one of the figures is depicted holding a piece of meat. The giraffe is shown in a far distance with his back on fire.

The opened drawers woman is described as a tail bone woman reflecting the psychoanalytical method mostly used in Dali’s paintings.

Today, this painting of Dali is placed in the Kunstmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland.

2.The Great Masturbator

Salvador Dali The Great Masturbator
Source: Wikipedia

Location:Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
Dimensions:43.3in X 59.1in

The psychic snapshot, the great masturbator was painted in the year 1929. It is in the oil on canvas medium with the dimensions of 43.3in X 59.1in.

The painting depicts the fully-seen rock at Cullero, which is in Cape Creus, Spain. The depiction of distorted human face facing downwards with his nose touching the ground is placed in the centre of the painting.

The portrait shows a nude figure of a female with her mouth opens placed near the thinly clad male crotch and the lower body part of the male character with a deep cut on his knees.

Along with the figures of male and female, a grasshopper with a swarm of ants on its abdomen is depicted in the portrait. Other three figures and an egg is also portrayed at the bottom of the landscape.

Like all other paintings of Dali, the great masturbator also depicts various unusually appealing figures which leads to gaining popularity and creating an impact on the eye of a viewer.

Today, the painting is placed in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

1. The Face of War

The Face of War Salvador Dali
Source: Wikipedia
Most Famous Song:Toccata and Fugue ( D minor )
Type of Music:Baroque

The Face of War, also known as The Visage of War, was painted in the year 1940. It is in the oil in canvas medium just like all other paintings of Dali with the dimensions of 25.2in X 31.1in.

Dali painted this portrait during the period when he lived in California, where he was inspired to paint due to the trauma and the view of the war he had witnessed and experienced.

The painting depicts the disembodied face, which is hovering against a deserted landscape. The face is shown as of a corpse with an expression of misery and has an identical face inside the mouth and eye sockets.

Biting serpents are also depicted swarming around the colossal face. Dali has left his handprints on the lower right corner of the canvas.

Today, the portrait of ugliness of the war is located in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Netherlands.


All of the paintings shown above have their significance and impact on the viewer’s eyes. Almost all his pictures have the effect of hallucination and the use of brilliant ideas.

Some of the other significant paintings and artworks of Salvador Dali include Head of Athene, Boat, Portrait of Lucia, Couple near the fortress, Nude in the water, Seated Monk, and the swallow’s tai

He is considered to be the most celebrated artists of his age due to his creations, concepts, and indulgent of science with religion.

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