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Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

La nostalgia dell'infinito

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
La nostalgia dell'infinito
signed and dated 'G. de Chirico 1921' (lower left)
oil on canvas
33 x 19½ in. (84 x 49.5 cm.)
Painted in 1940-1945
Piccola Galleria, Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Grosvenor Gallery (Eric Estorick), London.
Private collection, Switzerland, by whom acquired from the above circa 1963.
London, Crane Kalman Gallery, Architecture in Art, July 2001.
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

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

'All the nostalgia of the infinite is revealed beneath the geometric precision of the piazzas', Giorgio de Chirico

Painted in 1940-1945, La Nostalgia dell'infinito (The Nostalgia of the Infinite) is one of a series of revisionist works belonging to de Chirico's so-called 'New Metaphysical' period, in which he recreated slightly altered versions of his first great metaphysical masterpieces made in the early twentieth century.

This work refers to the painting La Nostalgia dell'infinito, now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, that de Chirico first painted in 1912 and subsequently antedated to 1911. Throughout his career, de Chirico regularly misdated his works in a haphazard way, almost as if to blur any linear sense of progression and reinforce the metaphysical sense of timelessness and relativity displayed by his works. The present work, for example, though painted in the 1940s, he has signed and dated 1921. Its title refers to the powerful sense of transience de Chirico first experienced walking amidst the colonnaded architecture of Turin in the autumn of 1912, and in particular the city's recently-built great tower - at one time the highest walled structure in the world - the Mole Antonelliana. As de Chirico later recalled in 1935, it was this unique atmosphere of autumnal Turin that first prompted his great 'metaphysical' revelations and set him on his life-long artistic path.

'It was Turin that inspired the entire series of paintings I created between 1912 and 1915. I must confess that they owe much to Friedrich Nietzsche, of whom I was then an impassioned reader. His Ecce Homo, written in Turin just before his plunge into madness, helped me greatly in understanding the distinctive beauty of that city. Turin's true season, that which best accentuates its metaphysical grace, is autumn... It is the season of philosophers, and of poets and artists inclined towards philosophy. The afternoon shadows are long and there reigns everywhere a euphonious quiescence... The autumnal charm of Turin is rendered yet more piercing by the rectilinear geometry of its streets and squares, and by the porticoes which allow one to stroll easily about, no matter what the weather. These arcades give one the impression that the city was constructed explicitly for philosophical musings, for concentration and meditation. Turin is a city of apparitions. One enters a square and comes upon a man of stone, who fixes one with his gaze as only statues can. Oftentimes the horizon is closed off by a wall, from behind which sounds the whistle of a locomotive, the rumble of a train about to depart: all the nostalgia of the infinite is revealed beneath the geometric precision of the piazzas. These moments are unforgettable, when aspects of the world whose existence we had only suspected suddenly appear to us, revealing the mysteries that lie there, in every moment, at the limits of our capacities, there where our short-sighted vision cannot quite distinguish them, nor our imperfect senses perceive them' (Giorgio de Chirico, 'Introduction to an Exhibition in Prague,' 1935, quoted in P. Baldacci, Giorgio de Chirico: The Metaphysical Period: 1888-1919, London, 1997, p. 128).

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