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About the Work
Salvador Dalí was an author, critic, impresario and provocateur. He became part of the art scene in 1929, and eventually became one of history’s most prolific artists. His fantastic imagery and flamboyant personality contributed to him becoming the best-known artist of the Surrealist movement of the late 1920s and early 1930s. He is known for his enigmatic and extraordinary paintings of dreamscapes and religious themes. Dalí always took risks in his art, as well as in his personal life and he fearlessly embraced his boundless creativity and created visionary work.
“Joseph” is part of a religion-based series of prints that depict the “Twelves Tribes of Israel”. Each etching represents one of the tribes. Levi, Zebulon, Naphtali, Dan and more are included in this series. The Twelve Tribes of Israel, in the Bible, are the Hebrew tribes which were named after sons or grandsons of Jacob. Many believe that the Tribe of Joseph was originally a single tribe, then split into the Tribe of Ephraim and the Tribe of Manasseh later. Ephraim and Manasseh are the two sons of Joseph. It is said that Joseph received a special blessing from Jacob, hence him having two sons. Ephraim’s common symbols are a unicorn and an ox, while Manasseh’s symbols are commonly an olive branch or arrows.
“Joseph” is just one example of how Dalí’s work was influenced by religious themes. In “Joseph” we can see a large unicorn with a long, sharp horn protruding from its head. The steed has a curly, almost mangled, mane and is posed elegantly. This steed is said to be one of the symbols of Ephraim. Next to the steed is an olive branch, the symbol of Manasseh. Behind this pairing is a tree, and in the distance, we can see mountains and birds flying about. These mountains are a reoccurring backdrop in many of Dali’s other works from this series. “Joseph” is a 19.5 x 14.75- inch hand-signed etching with color stencil created in 1973.