A personal invitation from Gala Dalí

Elisabet Pueyo
Castell de Púbol

Castle of Púbol. Photo: Conxa Rodà

We receive an invitation.  As if it was from Gala herself, the team of the Fundación Gala Salvador Dalí invited us to get to know the castle of Púbol, the refuge of Gala in the Empordà.

On the occasion of the exhibition Gala-Dalí which the Museu Nacional is co-organizing with the Foundation this July, the teams of Communication and of Digital Projects of the Museum proposed to get inside, physically and conceptually, this Room of one’s own in Púbol, the title which the curator Estrella de Diego has baptized this exhibition, inspired by the essay by Virginia Wolf.

Therefore, under the influence of a Russian woman and another British, a group of women got on a train, destination Flaçà. There, another group of women waited for us.  These are some brief notes, not an exhaustive tour, of our first-hand experience of the role-play between Gala and Salvador Dalí that this space reflects and transpires.

Gala, I give you a Gothic castle as a gift 

I accept with one condition, that you only come to visit me in the Castle by invitation. This response by Gala to Salvador Dalí which is the very principle of courteous love, is also the personal and unique stamp of the relationship of this creative couple.

Pati interior del Castell de Púbol

Castle of Púbol court

Piscina del Castell de Púbol. El jardí va ser ideat per Dalí

Castle of Púbol gardens

In the reconstruction of the castle, we begin to discover a constant juxtaposition between the two characters.  A clear mandate of Gala as a client and owner, on this occasion, and an always genial response – and stubborn – by Dalí. An example is the initial surprise in the adjoining garden to the house.  A place in which Gala wanted to see reflected the gardens of her childhood in Crimea but that Dalí executed in favour of the Renaissance model of a Bomarzo, with impossible symmetries and magical corners.

Taking a tour of the rooms we can see how Dalí created, based on the ruins from the past, new significances, centred on the figure of his lady: a throne that presides the entrance, a cut-out figure of Gala in the heavens of the room, a celestial dome … the recovery and surrealist re-interpretation of medieval traditions presided over by the letter G, of Gala, symbolizing and making clear who is the lady and who, the vassal.

It is when we go inside the private rooms – her living room, her bedroom, her library, her bathroom – that we see the personality of Gala better reflected:  a practical, cultured, assertive, modern, inspired woman…we can imagine how she passed her days in the castle-refuge.  Stopping any inopportune visitors from entering beyond the room on the ground floor, enjoying her friends and lovers, enjoying in a simple and close way the household service, writing…and evicting everyone from the house on the arrival of her gentleman Salvador Dalí.

Entrance hall

Entrance hall. The door on the right is a trompe l’oeil . © Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2018

Bedroom of Gala

Bedroom of Gala. Photos: Conxa Rodà

Definitely, she as the maximum exponent of the freedom that Virginia Wolf claims to reach in the “prosaic conclusion … that you have to have five hundred pounds a year and a room with a latch on the door to write novels or poems“ (Virginia Wolf, A room of one’s own).  In this case, Gala managed it in the form of a castle.

Image taken during the visit

Image taken during the visit

Old library of Castle of Púbol

Old library of Castle of Púbol

Gala: showcase and pedestal

During the visit, Jordi Artigas, coordinator of the museum houses of the Foundation, gave us an idea that reflects very well the role and importance of Gala in the life and work of Salvador Dalí. And it is that Gala was the showcase that protected Dalí from his fears and solved all the practical everyday matters; at the same time she was a pedestal that elevated and promoted him as the best agent would know how to do.

And he also reveals to us at the end of the tour, in the silence of the mausoleum of the castle, how GALA defines herself – without saying so openly – in a poem from her unpublished Diary:

sensible woman as a woman lover and loved […]
strong as the open branches of an ancient oak
Protective like a damp grotto
skilful like the proboscis of a bee vampire of the flowers 

(Gala Dalí. The Secret Life. Unpublished Diary)

Gala with Elsa Schiaparelli’s shoe-hat inspired by a Salvador Dalí design. 1938

Gala with Elsa Schiaparelli’s shoe-hat inspired by a Salvador Dalí design. 1938. André Caillet. París. Image Rights of Gala et Salvador Dalí reserved. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2018.

We agree that this visit, contrary to the expectations we may have had, is not the end but a starting point. We have more appetite to know, to read about and to contemplate Dalí’s work with different eyes.

Salvador Dalí and Gala working on the “Dream of Venus” pavilion. 1939

Salvador Dalí and Gala working on the “Dream of Venus” pavilion. 1939. Eric Schaal © Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2018. Image Rights of Gala et Salvador Dalí reserved. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2018

Estrella de Diego, in her expository proposal, gives us the opportunity to continue discovering Gala’s personal and artistic dream. A dream that becomes real when sharing it with Salvador Dalí. We invite you to get to know it on July 6 at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya


We would like to give our gratitude for this visit to the members of the team of the Fundación Gala Dalí: Imma Parada, Nuri Aldeguer, Mercedes Aznar, Cinzia Azzini and Silvia Nello, as well as Jordi Artigas for his detailed and enthusiastic guiding around the castle of Púbol. Thank you for organizing such a fruitful and stimulating day.  And for allowing us to access, having done an initiatory test, the intimate circle of Gala.

Dear readers, you should know that access test is restricted to the initiated…

The team of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation with the Museu Nacional team

The team of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation with the Museu Nacional team

Related links

Gala Salvador Dalí. A Room of One’s Own in Púbol



Elisabet Pueyo

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