The Fondazione de Chirico has confirmed the authenticity of this work. It is recorded in the archives under the number 513/1997.
As early as 1911-12, de Chirico was already announcing how his Nietzschean philosophical approach to painting would pave the way to his so-called metaphysical paintings. Although painted in the late period of de Chirico’s œuvre, Oreste e Pilade, epitomises the core of the artist’s philosophy that he had introduced almost fifty years earlier. The composition with the two seated mannequins, who became the main protagonists in de Chirico’s imagery from as early as 1914, echoes one of his preferred subjects, that of the Archaeologists. Mannequins are faceless, featureless and inanimate figures, that served as the perfect substitute for human presence in the artist’s mind, in order for the human being to 'become a thing'.
Born in Greece from Italian parents, de Chirico had been impregnated with the vestiges of Antiquity, classical mythology, art and history, since a very early age. These memories and these references to civilisation’s Golden Age permeated throughout de Chirico’s œuvre, serving often as his signature architectural backdrops or, as in the present lot, as the main subject itself. Oreste e Pilade refers to one of Homer’s classical myths described in The Odyssey. Orestes had been sent away from his home to live with his cousin Pylades, whereas his mother Clytmenestra was having an affair with Aegisthus. When the two cousins learned about the death of Agamemnon, Orestes’ father, who was brutally murdered by his mother Clytmenestra, Orestes and Pylades plotted a way to seek revenge for Agamemnon leading them to ultimately kill Clytmenestra and her lover Aegisthus.
This particular subject of Orestes and Pylades was of particular interest for de Chirico, given its metaphysical dimension of the almost brotherly, and to some extent, erotic bond between the two cousins and its more metaphorical dimension of 'removing the function of man as a bearing', given that Orestes literally ‘removed’ his own family bearings by killing his mother and her lover.