• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7603

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale (Morning)

    1 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 131

    Giulio Paolini (b. 1940)


    Price Realised  


    Giulio Paolini (b. 1940)
    signed, titled and dated 'Cythère Giulio Paolini 1983' (on the reverse)
    c-print in artist frame with painted cardboard wings
    40¼ x 50¼in. (102 x 127.5cm.)
    Executed in 1983

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the artist.

    Inspired by Antoine Watteau's acceptance piece to the French Royal Academy in 1717, l'Embarquement pour Cythère (collection Musée du Louvre), the present work is from a series of eleven works entitled Cythère that Giulio Paolini executed between 1983 and 1994. Throughout the series, Paolini employs a photograph of the sea placed behind shattered glass each with a different intervention to the picture place or at times with no interventions but with three-dimensional plaster casts placed on the floor. Each photograph is taken from a similar vantage point but at different hours of the day. There is confusion regarding Watteau's l'Embarquement pour Cythère and whether the painting depicts an arrival at Cythera, birthplace of the Roman Goddess Venus, or a departure. Paolini similarly captures this sentiment leaving the viewer with a distinct sense of longing for this unreachable paradise island as described by Charles Baudelaire in Un voyage à Cythère:

    Quelle est cette île triste et noire? - C'est Cythère,
    Nous dit-on, un pays fameux dans les chansons
    Eldorado banal de tous les vieux garçons.
    Regardez, après tout, c'est une pauvre terre.

    -- Île des doux secrets et des fêtes du coeur!
    De l'antique Vénus le superbe fantôme
    Au-dessus de tes mers plane comme un arôme
    Et charge les esprits d'amour et de langueur.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (acquired directly from the artist).

    Pre-Lot Text



    Giulio Paolini. Casa di Lucrezio, exh. cat., Spoleto, XXVII Festival dei Due Mondi, Palazzo Rosari Spada, June-July 1984, no. 8, p. 30.