In the 1940s, Dali announced – in a kind of paradox so typical of him – that he was “becoming classical,” and “Family of Marsupial Centaurs” certainly has a classical tone and technique about it, exuding an almost Renaissance-era feel. It’s quite a departure from what we might typically associate with the Spanish surrealist. It may, in fact, be one of the best examples of the nexus at which Dali the surrealist and Dali the “classicist” merged.
Dali had long been obsessed with the notion of intra-uterine memories and claimed with seriousness that he vividly recalled his time inside the womb! He wrote and expounded many times on what he called the “traumatism of birth,” and a number of his important surrealist paintings are themed around an intra-uterine world – more “real” than imagined, according to Dali. There’s even a photo-illustration of him in the fetal position, inside an egg, published on one of the opening pages of his book, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali”.
Here, in this unusual but remarkably well-painted canvas, we see a family not of human beings, but of centaurs – mythical creatures from Greek mythology, whose heads are human but whose bodies are that of a horse. Like marsupials, which carry their young in a pouch, in Dali’s world the human-horse creatures now take on marsupial qualities, while babies emerge freely from their mothers’ womb, and no doubt could return to them as they please. <source>