Elephants, along with melting clocks, are the two best known objects from Dali's Surrealist periods. Dali made use of elephants on several occasions, with their inclusion in this painting best known for their elongated limbs.

Closer attention also reveals that the animals are carrying heavy obelisks on the backs, and these are believed to have been inspired by the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This Italian had produced sculpture base in Rome where an elephant carrys an ancient obelisk.

The Elephant recurs several times again in Dali's work, first appearing in his 1944 painting, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening. It appears again in The Temptation of Saint Anthony and Swans reflecting Elephants.

The vibrant background continues inspiration from the Catalonian countryside, as seen also in Persistence of Memory and Rose Meditative.

The surrealist elements in this painting refer to the balance between the splindly legs of the elephant, and the huge weight that they appear to be carrying, along with the additions of the obelisks.

It is only this painting that actually makes the elephants the only key focus of the work, with them used as part of much busier compositions in the other surrealist canvases mentioned here. Sadly, this painting is currently part of a private collection but many of the other forty Surrealistic paintings by Salvador Dalí are more easily accessible.

Salvador Dali's Elephants is one of the most impressive oil paintings to have come from the career of this exceptional Spanish painter. This website offers up information on The Elephants plus several other paintings from Salvador Dali which feature this popular animal within them too. At the bottom of the page are more Dali paintings which you may also be interested in, with links alongside each to where you can buy print reproductions of them from Art.com, our recommended art retailer who we regularly use ourselves.

Salvador Dali's Les Elephants, to use it's French name, features a beautiful, gradiented sky that combines yellows and oranges to set the scene perfectly for the surrealist objects that are placed before it. Salvador Dalí, in Dawn Ades, Dalí and Surrealism wrote about his reasons for depicting elephants within several paintings and why they were distorted from reality. There is more information on this within this website.

Salvador Dali Elephants were specially selected animals which Dali used to contrast the difference between weight and structure, with the elephants carrying huge weight on their backs on top of brittle legs which were vastly elongated in order to substantially distort reality and stengthen the symbolism in his painting. The objects on the back of the elephants are believed to be inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture base in Rome of an elephant carrying an ancient obelisk and has been mentioned in several conversations of the artist, so it a fairly reliable claim.

Elephants is different from the others included below in that the Elephants are the entire focus of the painting and this remains a great lack of content across the rest of the work, with just a barren landscape whilst most Dali paintings were covered throughout with detail and interest. Swans Reflecting Elephants is one example of this, and you can see that below. It is marginally better known within Dali's career than Les Elephants.

Swans Reflecting Elephants

Swans Reflecting Elephants, also sometimes known as Reflections of Elephants, offers another use of Elephants but within a more detailed painting which was created by Salvador Dali in 1937. This work came from his Paranoiac-critical period and is now stored in a private collection. At 51 cm × 77 cm (20.08 in × 30.31 in), it is another relatively small painting with most other significant artists using far larger canvases than Dali would normally have chosen.

The extraordinary list of objects found within Swans Reflecting Elephants underlines the creativity involved with artists like Salvador Dali. The main focus of the painting is the bizarre reflection of swans in the pond on which they float which resemble elephants. It is believed that in this work Dali carefully chose a simpler title as he was becoming unhappy with the amount of weird art, as he saw it, which would become popular without any of the necessary qualities that he himself concentrated on achieving.

Temptation of St Anthony is another related Dali work which you can see above. As with all other images included in this website, the links beside it offer you the chance to buy your very own reproduction copy of the Dali original as a framed art print, which we ourselves have done recently. In Temptation of St Anthony Dali places some even more substantial objects on the backs of his surrealist elephonats and there is even room for a horse towards the front of this bizarre but symbolic procession. A small man sits in the bottom corner of the painting holding a cross up against them, seemingly for protection.

An obelisk lies on the back of the first elephant and this Bernini-inspired idea is continued into the later Dali paintings that also included elephants. Within Temptation of St Anthony, though, there are several elephants carrying on behind and these acutally hold Venetian edifices in the style of Palladio on their backs which again highlights the influence of many aspects of Italian art and culture on the thinking of Salvador Dali.

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate was actually the first of Dali's paintings to use elephants in 1944. At that time Dali was living in America with wife Gala. The full title of the work was actually Dream Caused by the Flight of a Beearound a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening and it is now stored in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid who hold an impressive selection of paintings from his distinguished career.

It is acutally Dali's wife, Gala, who is the women portrayed in this painting. Many believe that Dali is in some way capturing a dream of his wife's within this painting but it is always somewhat unclear as to the exact ambitions of it's creator, as with all his other art works. Many unconfirmed opinions on the painting have passed over the years since it was produced, but the most frequent and likely explanation is that it bears some relation to the Theory of Evolution and also covers the theme of dreams.

List of Famous Salvador Dali Paintings

Besides the Elephant-related paintings found in this website there are many more impressive oil paintings by Salvador Dali that are well worth checking out, and we include a list below of some of the most famous of all.

  • Idylle Atomique
  • Hallucinogenic Toreador
  • Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion
  • Cinquenta Tigre Real
  • Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory
  • Broken Bridge and the Dream
  • Mirage
  • Je ne m'en Souviens Pas
  • Bacchanale Dali print
  • Woman with a Head of Roses
  • Rose Medidative
  • Ghost of Vermeer
  • Odalisque
  • Raphaelesque Head Exploded
  • Geopoliticus Child
  • Dream
  • Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach
  • Woman with a Head of Roses
  • Apparition of the Face of Aphrodite
  • Landscape With Butterflies
  • Enigma Without End
  • Person at the Window
  • The Elephants
  • Musical Tempest
  • Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate
  • Galatea of the Spheres
  • The City of the Drawers
  • The Temptation of St. Anthony
  • Reminescence Archeologique de l'Angelus de Millet
  • Sacrament of the Last Supper
  • Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized by Her Own Chastity
  • Enchanted Beach with Three Fluid Graces
  • Reflections of Elephants
  • Maelstrom
  • Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra
  • Swans Reflecting Elephants
  • Female Figure with Head of Flowers
  • The Ship
  • The Metamorphosis of Narcissus
  • Burning Giraffes in Brown
  • Landscape with Butterflies
  • Spain
  • Soft Construction with Boiled Beans
  • Muchacha de Espalda
  • Idylle Atomique
  • Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory
  • Patient Lovers
  • L'Elephante Giraffe
  • Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach
  • Naissance d'Une Divinite
  • Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus
  • Apparition of My Cousin Carolinetta on the Beach at Rosas
  • Lincoln in Dalivision