She was Russian. Her name was Elena Ivanovna Diakonova.
She was born in 1894 in Kazan but spent her childhood in Moscow.
Her father died when she was eleven years old. Her mother, who had three more children, then married a lawyer. He loved his wife and her children very much.
Elena was a brilliant student. She completed her studies at the M.G. Brukhonenko academy for young women with a very high average mark.
Unfortunately, she had tuberculosis and in 1912 her family moved her into the Clavadel sanatorium in Switzerland.
In the sanatorium she met a French guy of her age and they fell in love. Both of them were discharged in 1914 and went to their countries but in 1917 they met in Paris and married. The following year their daughter Cecile was born.
Her husband Paul Eluard became a poet and was close to the leading figures of the surrealist movement: Andre Breton, Philippe Soupault and Louis Aragon.
In 1929 Elena met her future second husband, a painter. He was introduced to Paul Eluard by Camille Goemans, a Belgian poet and gallery owner.
When the painter met Elena it was love at first sight. He wrote: “She was destined to be my Gradiva (the name comes from the title of a novel by W. Jensen, the main character of which was Sigmund Freud; Gradiva was the book’s heroine and it was her who brought psychological healing to the main character), the one who moves forward, my victory, my wife”.
The name of the painter was Salvador Dali. His future wife, muse and female model became known to the world as Gala Dali.