A number of Dali's paintings include the use of butterflies. Here two butterflies appear to be in flight yet there is no sense of movement about them.
They appear static as if caught and placed for observation at the edge of the rock. In typical surrealistic style, the landscape appears to be a desert-like setting which puts the butterflies out of context with their surroundings.
Instead they appear symbolic, part of a dream-like landscape. A harsh light appears to be coming from the right of the picture, focusing attention upon them. The long shadows cast by the butterflies and the rock wall that they appear against, draw the viewer's eye over to the left of the picture.
However, the vast space to the left is empty and stretches out into the distance. The butterflies themselves are colourful and attractive.
They are painted in strong blue and orange colours but apart from their unequal size there is no real way to establish a sense of scale, no rocks or plants are in the vicinity. This leaves the viewer with a sense of ambiguity about the scene.
A number of thoughts have been put forward about the symbolic use of the butterflies.
Often they represent metamorphosis or change, others see them as symbols of freedom. Certainly Dali appreciated their use as part of his exploration of the subconscious. He was also aware of the Freudian use of symbols, having been impressed with Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams".
Dali's images are as intriguing, eccentric and as bold as the man himself was. Landscape with Butterflies is no exception and will provide many years of enjoyment and conversation.