It is regarded as one of Scotland’s most treasured paintings and the greatest work of art in Glasgow’s civic collection.

It also proves a major draw for visitors to the city’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, helping make the museum and art gallery one of Scotland's most popular free attractions.

Now Salvador Dalí's Christ of St John of The Cross has left Glasgow and returned ‘home’ for the first time since Director of Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums Dr Tom Honeyman secured it for the city for £8,200 more than seven decades ago.

Dalí's masterpiece has gone on display at The Dalí Theatre and Museum in the surrealist icon’s home town of Figueres, in Catalonia, Spain. 

The painting, now valued at more than £60 million, is the focus of a new temporary exhibition - the largest the museum has hosted since it opened nearly 50 years ago - which runs until the end of April next year.

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The exhibition will also showcase the comprehensive work by the Centre for Dalinian Studies - whose objective is to preserve, catalogue and study the documentary collection that it houses, as well as to foster research into the most diverse aspects of the oeuvre and life of Salvador Dalí.

The painting was originally scheduled to arrive at the museum in Figueres - where Dalí is buried in an unmarked crypt -  in November of 2020 but was rescheduled due to the Covid pandemic. 

Featuring a dramatic depiction of the crucified Christ which features no thorns, nails or wounds, the painting was inspired by a drawing Dalí was shown by 16th-century Carmelite priest John of the Cross, which is preserved in the Convent of the Incarnation in Avila in central Spain.

The seascape in the painting is the bay of Portlligat, a small village on the Costa Brava where Dalí lived and worked from 1930 to 1982.

The return of ‘El Cristo de Portlligat’ to Spain has been greeted with much fanfare, with one local media site saying that the painting will “undoubtedly sum up the Catalan and Spanish cultural season”.

"Dalí's 'The Christ', returns home", reported Catalan site El Punt Avui. 

At a press presentation for the new exhibition at The Dalí Theatre and Museum on Wednesday - attended by around 100 journalists - the Director of the Dalí Museums and curator of the exhibition, Montse Aguer, said it was an “emotional day” for the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.

Jordi Mercader, president of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, added: “We hope that it will indeed attract a lot of people without being able to anticipate the attendance.

“But it is a unique exhibition, the painting has never left the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.”

The Dalí Theatre and Museum confirmed that, given the “importance” of the temporary exhibition, the entire area of the museum’s Loggias Room in Torre Galatea - Dalí's last residence - has been adapted to host the exhibition. 

A museum spokesperson said: “The exhibition will allow us to revisit a work that had not been seen in Spain since 1952, when it was exhibited in Madrid and Barcelona. And even more importantly, it will allow us to enter the artist's universe and explore the relevance of Dalí's workshop in the bay of Portlligat, located in a landscape without which the painting would not acquire its full meaning. 

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“The exhibition project will provide art lovers with new contributions based on recent research, preparatory drawings and archival material, some of which is previously unpublished.”

The museum also thanked Glasgow Museums for the “invaluable collaboration” and for loaning one of its “most precious pieces” for the temporary exhibition.

The loan to The Dalí Theatre and Museum is the fourth time Dalí's Christ of St John of the Cross has left Glasgow since 2010, when it spent six months on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta at an exhibition of the surrealist artist’s work. 

The painting then left Glasgow again in September of 2017 before returning to the city in the summer of 2018, having featured in a Dalí/Duchamp exhibition in London's Royal Academy of Arts, before the exhibition travelled to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida. 

Dalí's Christ of St John of The Cross was last loaned out by Glasgow Life Museums to The Auckland Project in County Durham from July to December last year, alongside another Spanish masterpiece in El Greco’s Christ on the Cross.