Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee
around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
Artist Salvador Dalí
Year 1944
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 51 cm × 40.5 cm (20 in × 15.9 in)
Location Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944) is a surrealist painting by Salvador Dali. A short, alternate title for the painting is Sting Caused by the Flight of a Bee.[1] It was painted in 1944, while Dalí and his wife, Gala, were living in America.[1]


In this “hand-painted dream photograph” — as Dalí generally called his paintings — we find a seascape of distant horizons and calm waters, perhaps Port Lligat, amidst which Gala is the subject of the scene. Next to the naked body of the sleeping woman, which levitates above a flat rock that floats above the sea, Dalí depicts two suspended droplets of water and a pomegranate, a Christian symbol of fertility and resurrection[2] . Above the pomegranate flies a bee, an insect that traditionally symbolizes the Virgin.[3]

In the upper left of the painting a fish bursts out of the pomegranate, and in turn spews out a tiger who then spews out another tiger and a bayonet. A second later the bayonet will sting Gala in the arm. Above them an elephant with long flamingo legs, found in other compositions of the period such as Dali's The Temptations of St. Anthony, carries on its back an obelisk — like Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk in the Piazza Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.[4][5]

Themes and symbolism

The bayonet, as a symbol of the stinging bee, may thus represent the woman's abrupt awakening from her otherwise peaceful dream. This is an example of Sigmund Freud's influence on surrealist art and Dali's attempts to explore the world of dreams in a dreamscape.[1]

The bee around the smaller pomegranate is repeated symbolically. The two tigers represent the body of the bee (yellow with black stripes) and the bayonet its stinger. The fish may represent the bee's eyes, because of similarity of the fish's scaly skin with the scaly complex eyes of bees.[citation needed]

The elephant is a distorted version of the "Pulcino della Minerva" sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini facing the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.[6] The smaller pomegranate floating between two droplets of water may symbolize Venus, especially because of the heart-shaped shadow it casts.[6] It may also be used as a Christian symbol of fertility and resurrection.[7] This female symbolism may contrast with the phallic symbolism of the threatening creatures.[6]

It has also been suggested that the painting is "a surrealist interpretation of the Theory of Evolution."[8]

In 1962, Dalí said his painting was intended "to express for the first time in images Freud's discovery of the typical dream with a lengthy narrative, the consequence of the instantaneousness of a chance event which causes the sleeper to wake up. Thus, as a bar might fall on the neck of a sleeping person, causing them to wake up and for a long dream to end with the guillotine blade falling on them, the noise of the bee here provokes the sensation of the sting which will awaken Gala."[7] The guillotine anecdote refers to a dream reported by Alfred Maury in Le sommeil et les rêves and related by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams.


  1. ^ a b c "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, A Second Before Awakening". Fulcrum Gallery. http://www.fulcrumgallery.com/Salvador-Dali/Dream-Caused-by-the-Flight-of-a-Bee-Around-a-Pomegranate-A-Second-Before-Awakening_24430.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  2. ^ Murray, Peter (2004). A Dictionary Of Christian Art (Oxford Paperback Reference). "Pomegranate": Oxford University Press. 
  3. ^ Crane, Eva (1999). The World History OF Beekeeping And Honey Hunting. Routledge. pp. 600–610. ISBN 978-0415924672. http://books.google.com/books?id=ANTSvKj1AZEC&pg=PA605&dq=bee+christian+virginity&hl=en&ei=fMa5TdLvFtS_gQe63eET&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=bee%20christian%20virginity&f=false. 
  4. ^ Dahlberg, Kristina. "Bernini's Little Chick". http://honorsaharchive.blogspot.com/2007/02/berninis-elephant-obelisk-pulcino-della.html. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ Thyssen, Museo. "Permanent Collection". Museo Thyssen Permanent Collection. Museo Thyssen. http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/ficha_obra/352. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Cathrin Klingsöhr-Leroy (2004). Google books Surrealism. Taschen. ISBN 9783822822159. http://books.google.com/books?id=IBZbhP3rW-YC&pg=RA1-PA44&lpg=RA1-cioooo Google books. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  7. ^ a b Paloma Alarcó. "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second before Waking up". Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza. http://www.museothyssen.org/thyssen_ing/coleccion/obras_ficha_texto388.html. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  8. ^ Jaume Baguñà and Jordi García-Fernández (2003). "Evolution & Development". The International Journal of Developmental Biology. http://www.ijdb.ehu.es/03078contents.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 

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