Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Theseus And The Minotaur (Thésée Et Le Minotaure) From "The Mythology", 1963; Etching and Aquatint on Arches paper; Signed Dalí in pencil, lower center and numbered 5/150 in pencil, lower left; Framed using an acid-free mat, an inset brown wood interior fillet frame, a gold and brown wood exterior frame and conservation clear UV protective glass.
Artists draw inspiration from a variety of sources, and Salvador Dali loved to use literature as his starting point. The Bible, Tora, and the writings of William Shakespeare, Jean de La Fontaine, Dante Alighieri, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, are just a few examples. This work is a visual interpretation of the Greek myth "Theseus and the Minotaur"; and showcases not only Dali's masterful skill in the print medium, but his fantastic illustrative ability.
Once upon a time on the island of Crete there lived a King named Minos. He would occasionally send his army across the sea to attack the city of Athens and plunder it for it's wealth. The King of Athens offered Minos a deal that if he did not attack his city for 9 years he would send seven boys and seven girls to the island of Crete, to be eaten by the monstrous Minotaur that Minos kept as a pet. The Minotaur was a half human, half bull creature that Minos kept inside a complex labyrinth. King Minos did not attack Athens again and after 9 years, it was time for the King of Athens to keep his word. The King's son, Prince Theseus, decided that he would be the seventh son to go to Crete in order to kill the Minotaur and rid Athens of this terrible deal. The King begged his son not to go for
fear he would be killed but Theseus said, "I'll find a way, the gods will help me."
Prince Theseus with six boys and seven girls sailed to the island of Crete. When the children arrived they were greeted by King Minos and his daughter the Princess Ariadne. Ariadne decided to help Theseus and gave him a ball of string and a sword to hide at the entrance to the labyrinth. The sword would be a powerful weapon against the Minotaur and the sting could be attached to the closed gate and slowly unrolled as Theseus walked through the labyrinth, in order to find your way out.
This wonderful work of art by Dali captures the ensuing action of Prince Theseus battling the Minotaur with his bare hands, while the beautiful Princess Ariadne is depicted holding onto the string which will lead the Prince safely from the labyrinth. The aquatinting, resulting in brown and black swirls, adds to the action of the scene and also functions as a wonderful counterbalance to the black etching lines.
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