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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(2):124-125. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.2.124.
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Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), the leading painter among the surrealists, was one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century; he was a painter, illustrator, sculptor, writer, and filmmaker. A centennial exhibition begins this month in Philadelphia, Pa,1 to celebrate his achievements. Dalí was the son of a prestigious notary in the small town of Figuera in Catalonia in northern Spain. He was named after a brother who died of gastroenteritis at 21 months of age, 9 months before his birth. In his autobiography, Dalí wrote, “[M]y brother and I resembled one another like two drops of water, but we had different reflections. . . . I was . . . polymorphous[ly] perverse.”2(p2)Artistically talented from early childhood, he began drawing lessons at age 10 years and studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid, Spain. He was expelled twice from the Academy and did not take the final examinations because he felt he was more qualified than those who would examine him.

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Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Spanish. Cover: The Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937. Oil on canvas; 201 × 307 in. Courtesy of Tate Gallery, London, England. Copyright 2005 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

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Figure.Portrait of Sigmund Freud, 1938. Pen and ink on paper; 13⅝ × 12⅛ in. Courtesy of The Freud Museum, London, England. Copyright 2005 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

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Salvador Dalí, The Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937.

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