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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A PROMINENT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Natura morta

Natura morta
signed and dated ‘Morandi 1941’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
10 3/4 x 18 1/4 in. (27.3 x 46.3 cm.)
Painted in 1941
Galleria Barbaroux, Milan.
Riccardo and Magda Jucker, Milan.
Charlotte Morat, Geneva, by the late 1970s, and thence by descent to the present owner.
F.A. Morat, Giorgio Morandi, Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Radierung, Freiburg im Bresigau, 1979, p. 9 (illustrated).
C.L. Ragghianti, Bologna Cruciale 1914 e saggi su Morandi, Gorni, Saetti, Bologna, 1982, pp. 234-235 (illustrated fig. 391, p. 235).
L. Vitali, Morandi, Dipinti, Catalogo generale, vol. I, 1913/1947, Milan, 1983, no. 291 (illustrated).
Giorgio Morandi, seine Werke im Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1984, no. 4, p. 23.
M. di Carlo, M. Pasquali & L. Mattioli Rossi (ed.), The Later Morandi Still Lifes 1950-1964, exh. cat., Peggy Gugghenheim Collection, Venice, 1998, pp. 71-72 (illustrated p. 72).
Genf, Marie-Louise Jeanneret-Art Moderne, Giorgio Morandi, November 1977 - January 1978, no. 3a, p. 20 (illustrated p. 1bis); this exhibition later travelled to Paris, Grand Palais, November 1978 - January 1979.
Freiburg, Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft Stiftung, on loan, late-1970s - 2023.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Giorgio Morandi, Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Radierungen, July - September 1981, no. 31, p. 242 (illustrated).
San Francisco, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Giorgio Morandi, September - November 1981, no. 21, p. 169 (illustrated p. 101); this exhibition later travelled to New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, November 1981 - January 1982; and Iowa, The Des Moines Art Center, February - March 1982.
Nijmegen, Nijmeegs Museum Commanderie van St. Jan, Giorgio Morandi 1890-1964. Schilderijen, Aquarellen, Tekeningen en Etsen, April - May 1982, no. 2; this exhibition later travelled to Innsbruck, Tiroler Kunstlerschaft im Kunstpavillon im kleinen Hofgarten.
Bologna, Galleria comunale d'art moderna, Giorgio Morandi, 1890-1990, Mostra del Centenario, May - September 1990, no. 68, p. 408 (illustrated p. 134).
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Giorgio Morandi, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, April - July 2000, no. 7, p. 122 (illustrated p. 18).
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, À l'écoute du visible, Morandi, Hollan, May - August 2001, no. 2, p. 127 (illustrated p. 21).
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

'Morandi truly has the sense of a choir’s fated exodus in the conclusion of a Greek tragedy' - C. L. Ragghianti

Bologna, Italy, 10 June 1940. In the quiet and unassuming road of via Fondazza, nestled within the city’s characteristic red and yellow portici (arcades), in a small and neat studio, Giorgio Morandi was hard at work. All around him, the city was bustling. His hometown, a place so central to his artistic production and that had been his home for fifty-one years, remaning so for the rest of his life, was getting ready for war, having just officially entered World War Two. The following years would prove agonizing to the city and its inhabitants: in 1943 and 1944, the city was subjected to heavy bombing and suffered countless deaths. It was only during the interwar period that the artist left his nest in via Fondazza to find refuge from the bombings, safe in his countryside house in Grizzana, near Bologna.

At the very dawn of the war in 1941, Giorgio Morandi painted this superb picture. While it is difficult to establish whether it was executed right in the heart of Bologna in via Fondazza or in the safety of Grizzana, one can imagine that at the time of its execution, Morandi must have been deeply distraught by a sense of an impending threat. Morandi’s work, subtle yet powerful as it characteristically is, does not address this fear directly, yet may suggest it implicitly within the careful tensions and hues chosen in his work during this period.

Five vases of sombre colours, rendered in subtle shades of beige, dark blue and brown, are displayed on top of a dark brown surface. Thick brushstrokes of rich impasto render an opulently layered surface and deep shadows are reflected from a soft ray of light shining in from the left; revealing a characteristically intimate and meditative still life by Morandi. The perfect balance and staging of the vases into tightly composed relationships—almost human in their animated proximity to one another, with various tensions, vulnerabilities and revelations—reveal the power of still life as the most celebrated motif in his oeuvre, a testament to his overwhelming skill in conveying an understated contemplative potency. The artist’s iconic subject is treated here with an added sense of gravitas, one that could be understood, at least in part, as a reflection of the zeitgeist.

Natura morta, an exquisite still life from 1940, formerly in the collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller, was painted only a year before the present picture – reflected in the same stripy blue and white vase the two pictures share. However, the difference in the treatment of the same subject reveals subtle yet notable contrasts in character. The oval-shaped Natura morta from 1940 is bathed in bright, warm, light; the neat contours of the vases rendered with calculated brushstrokes, giving the composition a lucid, almost translucent hue. While unchanged in its indisputable quality, the tone of the present work, Natura morta, from 1941 is more solemn, deeper and more mature—a baritone as opposed to soprano. The denser brushstrokes and duskier palette, with objects arranged in a line, ordered in their structure and standing at attention to their viewer, culminate to form a different direction in Morandi’s artistic practice, suggestive of a more austere mood, engendering a tension between fragility and resilience. A quietly powerful reflection of contemporary times, Morandi’s Natura morta stands as an intimate contemplation of relationships during challenging times in Morandi’s beloved Bologna.

The present work is a solemn, grandiose testament to the artist’s unique ability to inspire and move his viewers through a remarkable economy of means. As Janet Abramowicz put it, ‘some of the works that Morandi painted during the war are among the most beautiful of his career’. (J. Abramowicz, Giorgio Morandi: The Art of Silence, New Haven, 2004, p. 165).

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