Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property from a Private American Collection 
Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)

Natura morta

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Natura morta
signed 'Morandi' (lower center)
oil on canvas
8 1/8 x 17 7/8in. (20.7 x 45.2cm.)
Painted circa 1954
World House Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 6 February 1960.
New York, World House Galleries, Giorgio Morandi Retrospective 1912-1957, 1957, no. 25.
New York, American Federation of the Arts, Manzù and Morandi: A Selection of Works by Two Contemporary Artists, January-June 1958.
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 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Barbara Guidotti
Barbara Guidotti

Lot Essay

The Comitato Morandi has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

Natura morta was painted circa 1954 and perfectly demonstrates Giorgio Morandi's restrained compositions from this period. A compact gathering of objects is clustered together on this canvas, allowing the two-tone background, so reminiscent of Mark Rothko's later pictures, to occupy much of the picture surface. Conversely, this also serves to emphasise the objects themselves, which explore a range of contrasts between the jutting angles of one box and the square bottle and the curves of the round container and the striped vessel.

Natura morta is an historic painting. It has been recently rediscovered, having stayed in the same collection for around half a century, since it was purchased from the World House Galleries. This picture had been exhibited there in 1957 in a celebrated retrospective organised by Lionello Venturi. This was Morandi's second one-man show in the United States of America; however, awareness of his work was rapidly increasing, and he had already featured in a group show in the World House Galleries earlier that year. During 1957, he had also been awarded the Grand Prize for painting at the 4th Biennial of São Paulo. By this time, an increasing number of people were making the pilgrimage to Bologna to see the artist in his monastic studio, where he would arrange the various objects that appear and reappear in his entrancing paintings, a rotating cast of characters.

Writing about the exhibition at the World House Galleries in which Natura morta featured, the art critic James Thrall Soby, who had been exposed to Morandi's work a few years before while travelling around Italy with the legendary curator Alfred Barr, was grounded in his praise. 'As might be expected, the show held no surprises, for Morandi has never been interested in anything but the slow, continuing perfection of a vision long established,' he explained. He then praised the development of the still life pictures and their palettes during the recent years in which Natura morta was itself painted, writing:

'Morandi's colour in recent years has become as soft and warming as swansdown, whereas during his early career it was more metallic. His sleight of hand with pale contrasts of tone is both unpredictable and impressive, and his manipulation of whites, greys, reds, violets, and yellows repays our close attention. Indeed, decorators could base a helpful glossary on his example. Except, of course, that his own aim is antidecorative and his colour inimitable' (J. Thrall Soby, ' The Fine Arts: Giorgio Morandi', pp. 23-24, The Saturday Review, 4 January 1958, p. 24).

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