Its medium is oil on canvas and the size is 43 x 33cm.. The brush strokes are bright, simple and expressive. This mystical composition very skilfully merges layers of disparate themes into a fascinating whole. The 1945 detonations of two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki deeply affected Dali. An explosion pervades this artwork. He created several other works with fragmented figures and heads (common motifs among post-war artists), reflecting the shattering physical and psychological trauma associated with nuclear weapons. The heavy brown clouds in the upper area are dark and menacing.
The delicate halo of the Madonna, very obviously Raphaelesque with her tilted visage, can also be interpreted as a mushroom cloud. The juxtaposition of the divine, exquisite and serene face of the Virgin Mary very meaningfully suggests the conflicts between war and peace, beauty and destruction and of certainty and uncertainty. Her expression is sad and contemplative as if in silent prayer for the sake of mankind. The fluid atomic particles are represented by strange rhinoceros horns (a peculiar leitmotif of Dali's work) arranged in circles creating a dynamic vortex. Tears running down the mother's face are also suggested. However, through the oculus, beams a wide shaft of warm heavenly light imbuing the scene with spiritual inspiration.
The wheelbarrow at the bottom left returns us abruptly to reality. Dali was an avid admirer of the three Italian High Renaissance masters, of which Raphael (1483-1520) was one together with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. The skull section is derived from the perfectly symmetrical interior of the dome of the iconic Pantheon ("a relation to the Gods"), an architectural masterpiece in Rome. Again, the artist emphasizes the stark contrast between classical harmony, balance, reason and order and modern-day turmoil and chaos. This is a painting with a universal message in a very new and dangerous era. Dali, we know, was very au courant with modern scientific studies on the potentially horrific consequences of any future wars.