Dali's new enthusiasm for the Catholic Church was given special recognition in 1949, when he was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII, to whom he presented this curious work, one of two
versions (the other is in a private collection). It is clearly based on Piero della Francesca's Madonna and Child with Angels and Six Saints (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan) but, unlike its
Renaissance prototype, it punctures and dismembers both the figures and their architectural framework.
Dali explained this 'dematerialization' as 'the equivalent in physics, in this atomic age, of divine gravitation', hardly an orthodox religious position. The highly personal nature of the
painting is also strengthened by Dali's use of his wife Gala as the model for the Madonna. The shell from which an egg is suspended above the Madonna's head also appears in the painting by
Piero, although there it is the other way round. The other marine objects reflect Dalf's choice of setting, his own home at Port Lligat. For Dali the mythologization of his own private life
was in no way inconsistent with his renewed Christian faith.