The Basket of Bread
was created when Dali was 22, during his last months at art school in Madrid. He created this work as a test for himself - to prove his technical skill as a painter by demonstrating his ability
to create the intense realism achieved by his artistic role models, particularly Johannes Vermeer
The painstaking realism of The Basket of Bread
was a major achievement and marked a turning point in his career. It boosted Dali's ego and gave him a sense of mastery with traditional painting, freeing him to
explore more difficult subject matter and imagery. This simple composition of bread in a straw basket on cloth is set dramatically against a dark background. Dali followed in the Spanish still-life tradition, where a
domestic scene represents spiritual reflection. By saturating the objects in such a mysterious light, he transforms the composition into an object of deep contemplation.
At this early stage in his career, the artist associated bread with traditional Spanish culture; it was a staple in every kitchen. Bread would remain an important and often-repeated image in his work, evolving as a
symbol over time as Dali's interests changed.