Although titled The Ecumenical Council
, this work depicts the coronation of Pope John XXIII. who convened the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, or Vatican II. The Pope appealed to Dali because he sought to renew
Catholicism's beliefs and practices in relation to the modern world. Similarly, Dali sought to revitalize art by merging modern science with spirituality.
Here Dali turns the Pope's coronation into a miraculous vision located between Heaven and Earth. The coronation is depicted three times in the center of the composition under the cross. In the Heavenly realm above,
the Holy Trinity witnesses the coronation. At the top, God the Father stands in a Vatican arch, his arm covering his face. Christ is on the left, dressed in a fabric of atomic particles and holding the cross that
dissects the canvas into four triangles. On the right, the Holy Spirit is both a figure and a dove.
In the Earthly realm below, Gala assumes the pose of St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who contributed to making Catholicism the Roman Empire's official religion. Dali assumes the pose of
from his Las Meninas
Always experimenting, Dali dipped an octopus in paint and pressed the tentacles onto the upper right corner of his canvas, creating an abstract pattern. Within the pattern, Dali "saw" another version of the coronation,
painting in additional details so that we can see it as well.
Painting and Quote from thedali.org