• The Italian Sale  auction at Christies

    Sale 7757

    The Italian Sale

    16 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 58

    Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)

    Natura morta

    Price Realised  


    Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
    Natura morta
    signed and dated 'Morandi 1941' (lower centre)
    oil on canvas
    16 x 21 1/8 in. (40.7 x 53.8cm.)
    Painted in 1941

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    This work is sold with a photo-certificate signed by the artist, dated Bologna, li 31 dicembre 1960, and is recorded in the artist's archive under no. 411.

    Painted in 1941, Natura morta sings with the serene calm that radiates from Giorgio Morandi's pictures. This painting is filled with a contemplative atmosphere that recalls the paintings of his revered predecessor Chardin. It has a sense of absorbing timelessness, the result of Morandi's constant search for the sublime. The pool of calm that Natura morta represents is all the more crucial and intriguing when one considers the date of its execution, during the years of the Second World War. This picture represents an oasis of beauty against the backdrop of global turmoil that was tearing so many countries, apart.

    Morandi spent much of the War at his country home in Grizzana, yet was by no means untouched by the conflict. Already, before the outbreak of war, he had been involved in controversy when he won the second prize at the Quadriennale d'Arte in Rome. While some felt that political interference had robbed him of the main prize, others felt that his lack of pictorial comment on the turbulent times during which they lived was some form of abandonment of artistic responsibility. Morandi, like France's Claude Monet in the First World War and Henri Matisse in the Second, sought to keep the light of beauty burning, a beacon of humanity's potential during those troubled years. As he himself later explained, 'I suppose I remain... a believer in Art for Art's sake, rather than Art for the sake of religion, of social justice, or of national glory' (Morandi, quoted in M. Gale, 'White Bottle Red Earth,' pp. 86-101, D. de Salvo & Gale, Giorgio Morandi, exh. cat., London, 2001, p. 94). Despite this, Morandi's friendship with controversial anti-Fascist figures meant that, two years after Natura morta was painted, he himself was arrested during a short period of investigation following which he returned to the solace of Grizzana.

    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.


    Private Collection, Bologna.
    Galleria La Bussola, Turin.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1953.

    Pre-Lot Text



    L. Vitali, Giorgio Morandi, Pittore, Milan 1964, no. 116 (illustrated, unpaged).
    L. Vitali, Morandi, Catalogo generale 1913-1947, vol. I, Milan 1977, no. 293 (illustrated).
    R. Pasini, Morandi, Bologna 1989, no. 39 (illustrated, p. 163).


    Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, IX Quadriennale, October 1965-March 1966, no. 8.