Salvador Dali's greatest inspiration was his wife, Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova, who was born in Russia and known as Gala. She was a model for many paintings and was often depicted as the Virgin Mary or simply as an ordinary woman.
Dali's love and devotion to his wife is very apparent, as evidenced by her presence in many of his paintings. Salvador Dali nicknamed his wife "Lionette" because he claimed that when she became angry, she roared like the famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor lion. Dali's trademark thin mustache was said to be inspired by a 17th century master painter from Spain, Diego Velázquez.