DADDY LONGLEGS OF THE EVENING – HOPE!
Material Used: Oil on canvas
Size: 10 x 20 inches
Daddy Longlegs of the Evening – Hope! was the first painting purchased by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. The recently married couple thought Dali’s work was remarkably crafted and unlike anything they had ever seen. In 1943 they traveled to New York to meet the artist and his wife, purchasing this painting and initiating their four decades of collecting Dali, which culminated in the Museum’s collection.
Significant as the cornerstone of the collection, Daddy Longlegs is also significant for being the first painting Dali completed in the UnitedStates after he and Gala sought refuge here during World War II. No longer part of the Surrealist group, Dali’s homeland was under siege, and he found himself facing an unknown future.
A grotesque scene unfolds, dominated by Dali’s gelatinous self-portrait in the center, surrounded by the elements of war. A winged child shields his eyes, yet points to the horrors unfolding: a cannon shoots an eyeless putrefying horse, while a soft airplane oozes to the ground. A sculpture of Nike, the Greek Winged Goddess of Victory, rises in bandages from the deflated plane. The Dali figure holds a soft cello that is no longer capable of making music; inkwells sprout from the body, suggesting the eventual treaties that will resolve the crisis.
Ants swarm the face, but a daddy longlegs spider stands and moves forward. In 1940, Dali told a reporter that according to an old French peasant legend, a daddy longlegs seen at evening brings good luck. In the midst of the horrors of war, Dali foresaw an eventual peace, but one achieved at a great price.