Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Tancredi (1927-1964)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more WORKS FROM A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTION, LOTS 103, 104
Tancredi (1927-1964)


Tancredi (1927-1964)
signed and dedicated "Tancredi a Pegeen" (lower left)
oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 47¼in. (100 x 120cm.)
Painted in 1957
Beatrice Monti della Corte Collection, Milan.
Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan.
Galleria Extra Moenia, Todi.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998.
M. Dalai Emiliani, Tancredi, i dipinti e gli scritti, Turin 1997, vol. I, p. 259, no. 716; vol. II, no. 716 (illustrated, unpaged).
Ferrara, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Tancredi, 1981-1982, no. 46 (illustrated and titled Tancredi a Pegeen, unpaged).
Catania, Fondazione Brodbeck Arte Contemporanea, Collezione Paolo Brodbeck. Pittura italiana 1949/2010, 2010.
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.

Brought to you by

Barbara Guidotti
Barbara Guidotti

Lot Essay

‘I believe that painting has just been born. There is only one way to understand nature, to look at it rather than hear it.’ – Tancredi
(Tancredi, quoted in L. M. Barbero, Tancredi, una retrospettiva: La mia arma contro l’atomica è un filo d’erba, exh. cat., Venice, 2016, p. 31).

‘Tancredi, through his painting, creates a new poetic philosophy for those who have neither telescopes nor rockets: how lucky we are to have such crystallizations that transport us safe and sound towards other worlds.’ – Peggy Guggenheim
(Guggenheim, writing in the catalogue of Tancredi’s solo exhibition at Carlo Cardazzo’s Galleria Il Cavallino, Venice, January 1953).

Tancredi’s career was transformed in 1951 by a pivotal encounter with the legendary American collector Peggy Guggenheim, who had been introduced to the artist’s work by the painter Bill Cogden. Quickly grasping the young Italian’s potential, Guggenheim proclaimed him to be her ‘Venetian protégé’ and placed him under contract, only the second time she had done so following her arrangement with Jackson Pollock. It became Guggenheim’s mission to promote the artist’s work, donating several important compositions to museums in both Europe and America, staging exhibitions of his latest paintings in her elegant palazzo on the Grand Canal, and providing Tancredi with a dedicated space to work in. At the same time, her personal collection of modern art became a catalyst for the young painter’s artistic evolution. Simultaneously exposed to the stark, linear beauty of Piet Mondrian and the gestural, painterly freedom of Pollock, Tancredi’s entered a period of impassioned creativity in which his painterly style was transformed, his canvases now marked by richly expressive brushwork and unique meditations on space which centred around the point.

Dating from 1957, Untitled illustrates the growing complexity of Tancredi’s art during the latter half of the decade, as his compositions began to grow in scale and ambition, their surfaces enlivened by darting touches of iridescent colour woven into a complex pattern of fragmented painterly forms. A key and enduring inspiration for the artist throughout this period was the atmospheric play of light and vaporous mists of Venice, whose winding streets and intricate network of canals Tancredi had called home since his youth. Describing the artist’s fascination with La Serenissima, Luca Massimo Barbero explained the hold Venice had on Tancredi’s imagination: ‘The city was to him an affective place, to be breathed. It is not only architecture; it is the dust of its atmospheres. Tancredi painted the vapours and reflections of Venice, the splendour of its mosaics, the brown of the dusks’ (L. M. Barbero, in S. Bossi, ‘Revealing Tancredi: An Interview with Luca Massimo Barbero,’ in intime Magazine, 2017, accessed via , 5 September 2019, 16.45). In works such as Senza titolo, Tancredi attempts to translate a sense of the unique, ethereal luminosity of the lagoon city onto the canvas, using cascading layers of colour against a thin wash of dark paint to create a richly textured surface that evokes the dancing reflections and shimmering lights of the meandering waterways. Applied in darting, lightning flashes of the paintbrush, these dots, dashes and zig-zagging ripples of paint appear to oscillate before the viewer, criss-crossing the canvas in a loose, yet carefully structured, centrifugal pattern, that radiates a strange internal tension.

Senza titolo is dedicated to Pegeen Vail, Guggenheim’s daughter from her relationship with the artist and writer Laurence Vail. During the early 1950s, Pegeen was living in her mother’s grand Venetian palazzo, using a studio in the basement for her painterly activities. When Tancredi came under Guggenheim’s patronage, Peggy granted him a studio in the palazzo to work from, setting him up in a space adjacent to Pegeen. The two soon began a passionate, if tempestuous, love affair which would last for several years, only coming to a conclusion in 1957, the year the present work was created. During this time, Pegeen appears to have been a muse to Tancredi – indeed, an exhibition of the artist’s work in the autumn of 1956 featured twelve compositions entitled Omaggio a Pegeen. The end of their relationship coincided with the dissolution of Tancredi’s agreement with Peggy Guggenheim, with various sources citing both a clash of egos and financial disagreements as the cause of their decisive break. Following the artist’s departure from Venice and the cessation of his connections with Guggenheim, Tancredi moved to Milan, where he exhibited at the Galleria dell’Ariete of Baroness Beatrice Monti della Corte, who would become the first owner of Senza titolo.

More from Thinking Italian Evening Auction

View All
View All