Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)


Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
signed 'Morandi' (lower right)
oil on canvas
15¾ x 11¾ in. (40 x 30 cm.)
Painted in 1948
Collection Guido Dagnini, Bologna.
Galleria Marescalchi, Bologna.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
L. Vitali, Morandi. Catalogo generale, vol. II, Milan, 1977, no. 592 (illustrated).
Bologna, San Giorgio in Poggiale, Morandi nelle raccolte private bolognesi, 1989, no. 23 (illustrated, p. 75).
Bruxelles, Botanique, Giorgio Morandi artista d'Europa, 1992, no. 57.
MuMi, Museo Michetti, Palazzo San Domenico Francavilla al Mare, Oltre l'oggetto. Morandi e la natura morta oggi in Italia, 2007, p. 21 (illustrated).
Lucca, Fondazione Ragghianti, Complesso monumentale di San Micheletto, L'alibi dell'oggetto. Morandi e gli sviluppi della natura morta in Italia, 2007-2008, no. I.4 (illustrated, p. 25).

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Beatriz Ordovas
Beatriz Ordovas

Lot Essay

Flowers have long been chosen as a subject by artists wishing both to capture the colouristic beauty of the theme and to create moralistic warnings about the nature of vanity and the inevitability of death. Giorgio Morandi avoided such grandstanding: as is clear from Fiori, painted in 1948, Morandi's vision was incredibly understated, a reflection of the man himself. In this subtle, poetic work, Morandi has used a deliberately limited palette of ochre, white and a muted pink in order to capture the flowers in their vase, illuminated by a fairly diffused light. This picture perfectly conveys the atmosphere of dusty stillness and timelessness that characterises Morandi's paintings and indeed is recalled in photographs of his studio.

In Fiori, rather than any moralistic tone, the notion of the memento mori takes on an existential timbre, more suited to the atmosphere of post-war Europe in which it was painted. At the same time, the picture's incredible sense of tranquillity makes it an object of contemplation and indeed of mystery, recalling Morandi's involvement decades earlier with the Pittura Metafisica of Giorgio de Chirico. Indeed, Fiori dates from a period in which Morandi was gaining increasing recognition both at home in Italy and abroad. That year, some of his early works were shown alongside those of de Chirico and Carlo Carrà in a specially-curated exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Morandi had long painted flowers, and indeed an example of a floral still life from his early 'teens remains in the museum dedicated to his work in his native Bologna. By the time he painted Fiori, Morandi, who was considered by many to be the pre-eminent living painter in Italy, used dried flowers rather than cut ones which might fade. This allowed him to adjust the composition again and again, until it perfectly expressed the sense of pictorial harmony that he wished to capture. He himself explained that it might take days of moving his motifs this way and that, before he achieved what he considered a perfect composition, and clearly real flowers would not survive such an elongated working process. Instead, the same silk flowers would sometimes appear in pictures dating from years apart, providing that sense of continuity and timelessness so crucial to Morandi's vision.

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