One of Morandi's finest etched works, Grande natura morta con la lampada a petrolio was produced in 1930, at the height of his most productive period in printmaking. 1930 was also the year he became Professor of Printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna. This appointment gave him financial security for the rest of his career and allowed him to devote himself almost entirely to his art.
Despite the arrival of revolutionary new printing techniques in the 20th century, Morandi, who was entirely self-taught, always and only used the very traditional and relatively simple technique of etching. Avoiding any innovation, contrary to artists such as Picasso and Miró, he grounded his work within the grand tradition of printmaking. Indeed, many of the manuals from which he learnt were the first treatises on etching, published in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In one sense Morandi's repertoire was extremely limited - he confined himself to still-lifes and landscapes, but variety does exist, in the way in which he manipulated the various elements within these genres. In his subject matter, as in his technique, he sought to refine and refine again with smaller and yet smaller changes to the arrangements of objects, of shadows and of densities of line. In these experiments he worked in the same tradition as the great painters of the past - particularly Chardin - who sought the infinite in a seemingly restricted palette and subject matter. Achieving a sense of mystery equivalent to that found in his painted work, there is something universal in these quiet printed arrangements of everyday objects - some intangible link to the wider world in which they exist.