The Angelus and its influences

Thanks to Phil Krause

Jean-Francois Millet painted the Angelus in 1857 as a commission for the wealthy American Thomas Appleton. As the purchaser failed to take possession by 1859 Millet added the steeple and changed thetitle. Just think, this painting might never have been seen by the public or other artists if Appleton had taken it Vincent Van Gogh might never have mentioned this painting in several of his letters to his brother Theo, who sponsored him financially for his whole life. It was a tragedy that Vincent never sold a painting in his entire life for as much as the materials cost him to paint it. It wouldn’t have had much chance of being spotted as a masterpiece, especially with its original title, “Prayer for the potato crop”. There certainly wouldn’t have been a print hanging in the corridor of Salvador Dali’s school while he studied there. It would never have occupied so much of Dali’s time and mind to become an obsession with him for many years. Dali even wrote an entire book just about this painting; in the early years he was convinced that it was of a couple mourning their child’s grave. He was so insistent of this that eventually they x-rayed the canvas which remarkably confirmed his suspicions as this picture was painted over a geometric shape strikingly similar to a coffin. Dali later believed that this painting held messages of regressed sexual aggression and he painted dozens of his own versions of this painting over many years. He started by representing the scene with carved stone statues on the beach. The figures became more and more abstract with each canvas that he painted until the woman had finally completely devoured the man who was represented by a bean. Even the portrait of his wife Gala was presented in the Angelus fashion with herself and the picture behind. One of them even looks like it has the Big Brother Eye in it. Mind you, if I was one of Appleton’s ancestors I might be trying to claim this painting back on his behalf now it has been admired by the world’s artists

via The Naked Bloggers 2010.

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