IT SPARKED controversy when it was purchased for £8200 in 1952 and has even survived two attacks by vandals.


Letters written to The Herald at the time voiced their approval or disapproval of the purchase of the Salvador Dali masterpiece.
Christ of St John of the Cross was first targeted in April 1961 when a visitor attacked it with a large stone. The man broke through the barrier around the painting and used a piece of rough sandstone to slash horizontally and vertically at the surface of it. The culprit then grabbed the canvas and pulled it down with his hands, causing a tear of around eight feet.

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A second attack in the early 1980s saw the protective perspex cover of the painting shot at with an airgun.
Now, said to be worth around £60million, earlier this year it prompted union boss Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB, to suggest council chiefs could raise millions by selling it to cover the ongoing equal pay bill.
As it celebrates its 70th anniversary on display at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross has become one of the most treasured paintings in Scotland.

HeraldScotland: Salvador Dali's Christ of St John on the Cross was first displayed in Glasgow in June 1952Salvador Dali's Christ of St John on the Cross was first displayed in Glasgow in June 1952
Next month it will be loaned out for five months as a way of showcasing Glasgow’s rich collection and is partly a driver in attracting visitors to the city’s galleries.
It will be on display at The Auckland Project, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, from July to December and will unite two Spanish masterpieces from British collections at the Spanish Gallery. It will be exhibited alongside El Greco’s Christ on the Cross, which went on public display for the first time after more than two centuries in a private collection when the Spanish Gallery opened last year.

HeraldScotland: Salvador Dali and Dr Tom Honeyman pictured in SpainSalvador Dali and Dr Tom Honeyman pictured in Spain
Duncan Dornan, Glasgow Life’s head of Museums and Collections, said: “This summer, the renowned Christ of St John of the Cross will be shown alongside another Spanish masterpiece by El Greco at The Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland. Displaying this treasured painting in a new way enables us to widen our understanding of the incredible artist, Salvador Dalí who painted this iconic artwork, which remains a favourite with Glaswegians and visitors to the city.”
Mr Dornan said it will go back on show at Kelvingrove early in 2023.
He added: “Glasgow’s art collection is considered one of the finest in Europe and loaning key pieces allows people across the country to access and enjoy them, bolstering our reputation. These partnerships also allow visitors to Glasgow Life Museums to enjoy beautiful artworks from other important collections.”

HeraldScotland: Dali's painting will be displayed along side the El GrecoDali's painting will be displayed along side the El Greco
The Dalí and El Greco works will be the first temporary exhibition in The Spanish Gallery, the first gallery in the UK dedicated to the art, history and culture of the Spanish Golden Age. 
The gallery, which focuses on art of the 16th and 17th centuries, explores the universal themes of the transience of life and its battle with the desire for eternity. 
Dalí’s Christ of St John of the Cross was last loaned to a UK institution in 2017, visiting London’s Royal Academy. It has never been on display in the North East before. 
Former director of Glasgow Museums Dr Tom Honeyman, who acquired the work on behalf of the city of Glasgow, expressed Dalí’s eagerness to loan the work as widely as possible, aligning with the Spanish Gallery’s mission to make extraordinary examples of Spanish art available to the British public. Honeyman said: “If I were ever asked what I would do with the Dalí, I think I would reply on these lines: Put it into circulation as much and as frequently as possible.”
The exhibition invites visitors to consider their own response to the work of two important and influential artists and will be accompanied by an exhibition guide containing three short reflections, including one by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler.
El Greco depicts Christ as a real, living man - the vivid blood and pallid face, the use of exaggerated form, and the dramatic contrasts of light speak to an experience of anguish. His painting forces the viewer to come face to face with Christ’s suffering. Dalí in contrast presents a beautiful but anonymous figure viewed from on high, emphasising his role as the Son of God and the magnitude of the sacrifice witnessed. Dalí said: “I want to paint a Christ that is a painting with more beauty and joy than has ever been painted before.” 
Jonathan Ruffer, founder of The Auckland Project, said: “It’s curiously hard to say thank you properly for something so wonderfully generous that mere words of thanks really are not enough.
“Our Spanish Gallery has several examples of ‘Christ on the Cross’ painted some 400 years ago, including our example by master of the Golden Age El Greco. The generous loan of Dalí’s iconic ‘Christ of St John on the Cross’ gives an opportunity for putting the same image from today’s world with that of the past and ask the question - are they really paintings of the same thing?”