I giocattoli del principe (The Playthings of the Prince)

I giocattoli del principe (The Playthings of the Prince)
signed and dated 'g. de Chirico 1972' (lower right)
oil on canvas
55 x 35.5 cm. (21 5⁄8 x 14 in.)
Painted in 1972
Centro Arte Internazionale, Milan
Private collection, by whom acquired from the above
Private collection, Italy, by whom acquired from the above in the 1990s; sale, Christie's London, 28 June 2017, Lot 400
Private collection, by whom acquired at the above sale

The Fondazione de Chirico has confirmed the authenticity of this work. It is recorded in the archives under the number 031⁄07/12
K. Robinson, 'L'armonia nascosta.Il gioco del re' in Metafisica. Quaderni della Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico, no. 5-6, Rome, 2006, pp. 119-121 (illustrated fig. 24, p. 120).
Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico, (ed.), Giorgio de Chirico, Catalogo generale, Opere dal 1912 al 1976, vol.1, Rome, 2014, no. 418, pp. 48 and 461 (illustrated p. 388).
Reggio Calabria, Museo Nazionale, Omaggio a Giorgio de Chirico, December 1972 - January 1973, no. 36, n.p. (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Significant in his own time as a great inspiration to the Surrealists, De Chirico’s incredible artistic influence during the early 20th Century remains significant today. Extended through the reprisals of Andy Warhol who created a series inspired by De Chirico, he furthermore remains the original catalyst to the contemporary Surrealism evidenced in the work of Julie Curtiss and others today.

I giocattoli del principe (The Playthings of the Prince), painted in 1972, is a reworking of an important earlier work entitled Playthings of the Prince, resident in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Depicting almost identical scenes in which the details are skilfully and meticulously executed, this work differs only from the earlier version in that de Chirico has introduced a more complex arrangement of objects in the foreground and a classical statue, faintly visible in the distance. Both works share in common the same dramatic architectural features, including the prominent tent in the foreground, an enigmatic structure that both exists as a substantial presence yet conceals its contents. With incongruous, impossible perspectives and suspenseful shadows, De Chirico’s works create an environment beyond physical reality, bathed in twilight, on the cusp of night and day, or perhaps within both at once.

The work aligns with De Chirico’s series of "metaphysical" works where importance is given to the reallocation of reality and where the still life vocabulary is usually fantastic and based on intuition. De Chirico aimed to take commonplace objects and buildings out of their natural environment with the idea of suggesting a counter reality which would communicate with the subconscious mind.

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