During World War II Dali fled to America. He returned to Spain in 1948.
This was despite the fact that General Franco was ruling the country as a dictator. He had proclaimed himself the defender of Catholicism against Marxism and modernity.
Earlier in his life Dali had moved away from the Roman Catholic faith he was brought up in. But he now decided to become a practising Catholic again.
In 1949 he was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII. Dali sought and was given approval for his new religious themes.
Dali had studied nuclear physics. He felt that the discovery of the atomic nature of the Universe proved the existence of God.
He saw himself as the first artist to paint pictures that would combine science with religious belief. He called this Nuclear Mysticism.
In 1951 he published his Mystic Manifesto and announced his intention to paint an ambitious Crucifixion.
He wrote, ‘I want my next Christ to be the painting containing the most beauty and joy than anything that will have been painted up to the present’.
Dali’s Christ was the complete opposite to some traditional approaches to depicting the Crucifixion, which emphasised suffering and pain.