Painted just after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Autumnal Cannibalism
shows a couple locked in a cannibalistic embrace. They are pictured on a table-top, which merges into the earthy tones of a
Spanish landscape in the background. The conflict between countrymen is symbolised by the apple balanced on the head of the male figure, which refers to the legend of William Tell, in which a father is forced to shoot
at his son.
True to his principle of taking no interest in politics, Dali viewed the civil war that war tormenting his country merely as a delirium of edibles. He observed it as an entomologist might observe ants or grasshoppers.
To him it was natural history; to his countryman Picasso
, by contrast, it was political reality. What Guernica
Picasso, Autumnal Cannibalism
was for Dali.