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Although this painting is Cubist in style, its imagery has a strong poetic and surreal quality. Picasso was already exhibiting this combination of
apparently contradictory elements in his work. However, while the bust lying on the table in Dali's work recalls Picasso's Studio with Plaster Head, images such as the guitar, whose neck
uncannily resembles the bodies of the fish lying next to it, are Dali's own inventions. Indeed he later identified the flaccid guitar as a precursor of the famous soft watches of
The Persistence of Memory.
While most of Still Life by Moonlight is in appropriately nocturnal tones, the expressiveness of the scene is enhanced by the occasional use of bright colours, especially in the remarkable blue fish, which Dali has endowed with unexpectedly vivacious features.