Médium: Fer, forgé, soudé

Dimensions: 146 x 73 x 36 cm

“Daphné” is an iron sculpture executed in 1937.  It is one of Julio González’s most important works of the late 1930s.

Here, González has modernized the ancient Greek myth of Apollo and Daphné, where the young nymph resorts to drastic measures to thwart the sun god’s unwanted advances.

The curved rods culminating in horizontal lines at the top of the sculpture represent Daphné’s raised arms and hands, imploring her father, the river god Peneus, to help her escape Apollo.  They contrast with the solid fullness of the rectangular iron planes, juxtaposed to form the base and core of the sculpture, which represent the young nymph’s body being transformed into the trunk of a laurel tree.  Her head is depicted by the small circle in the center, with horizontal lines behind it suggesting her billowing hair as she flees.  A first curved branch seems to have sprouted from her torso.

This work depicting a half-human, half-vegetal form in the midst of its transfiguration exemplifies González’s fascination with metamorphosis, one that he shared with the surrealists who were then quite influential.  Furthermore, the theme of the imploring woman, fleeing imminent danger, is consistent with another major thread in his work at the time, inspired by his preoccupation with the Spanish Civil War which was then raging in his home country.  The female figure was González’s preferred subject to express his solidarity with his compatriots in distress.