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    Sale 7600

    Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

    25 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 521

    Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

    Piazza d'Italia

    Price Realised  


    Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
    Piazza d'Italia
    signed 'g.de Chirico' (lower left); signed twice and inscribed 'Giorgio de Chirico Piazza d'Italia' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    15¾ x 20 1/8 in. (40 x 51 cm.)
    Painted circa 1960-1965

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    This work is sold with a photo-certificate from the Fondazione de Chirico.

    The Piazza d'Italia is one of the central themes in de Chirico's work and recurs throughout several decades. It was in this desolate space, a square that is at once universal and at the same time the product of the artist's unique mind, that the Metaphysical truly appeared in his paintings. These strange landscapes are on the one hand cosmopolitan, reminiscent of the squares of Turin, and yet almost devoid of humanity. The only movement in this painting is the train in the background and the pennants fluttering in the wind, and even these de Chirico has lent a sense of the static. This is a quiet and eerie place, dominated by a solid and silent statue, and the viewer cannot help but be effected by the strangeness and even loneliness of the scene. Indeed, the people talking in the distance only serve to make the viewer feel even more isolated.

    The isolation in Piazza d'Italia runs deep, as the statue in the middle, a staple feature of de Chirico's paintings, is identified as Ariadne, the princess abandoned by Theseus on a lonely island. Images of the deserted Ariadne had been a fertile theme for artists for millennia, and de Chirico expressly chose this classical image for its meaning and the recognition it has. Ariadne has, as though she represents some constant in human nature, featured again and again, possibly showing some deep-seated place in the human psyche for the abandonment she suffered and represented. Placing this statue of a lonely woman in the centre of this piazza, de Chirico invokes his Metaphysical revelation. He is prompting the viewer to come to a new understanding of the world around us, of the nature of time and of existence. Rather than a figure from the past, de Chirico's Ariadne has never been away, and so this image of the meeting of various periods of time is designed to rent us from our overly linear understanding of the world.

    Painted in the early 1960s, this Piazza d'Italia is part of a deliberate project by de Chirico whereby he expressly revisited old themes in the Post-War years. In so doing, he was himself re-enacting the old days, recreating the old art, and in a sense making it increasingly timeless. This was both a continuation of his philosophy and a strong statement against the ever-increasing prevalence of modern and abstract art. In the Post-War art world, de Chirico, now famous, with his works instantly recognised by many, took advantage of his international exposure to continue the 'classic' tradition of art by repeating his theme, lending it an increased authority each time. Each version was different in some way, and yet the combination of various elements made certain that each one was distinct, a ritualistic and loyal tribute to his art.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Acquired directly from the artist by the father of the present owner in the 1960s, and thence by descent.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this work is signed twice and inscribed `questa pittura metafisica "Piazza d'Italia" è opera autentica da me eseguita e firmata. giorgio de Chirico. "Piazza d'Italia" giorgio de Chirico' (on the reverse)

    Pre-Lot Text