For decades, the elusive Giorgio Morandi only varied his simple lifestyle by residing for the large part of the year with his sisters in Bologna and retiring to the cool comfort of the hills in the summer, at Grizzana. Indeed, Grizzana was so associated with the artist that it is now known as Grizzana Morandi. While there, Morandi not only produced his more customary still-life paintings, but also painted the landscape around him. Although these works lack the interiority of Morandi's still-lifes, and although he had no true control over the composition of the landscape, his images of the houses scattered across the slopes nonetheless act as an interesting foil to the study of his other work, and offer an intriguing insight to the painter himself.
Morandi's landscape paintings, perhaps more than any of his other works, show the intense influence of various past masters on his work. In the sense of light and the cubic nature of the houses, the viewer is reminded in particular of the frescoes of Piero della Francesca in Arezzo, and moreover of Cézanne's landscapes. Indeed, Morandi even said that his 'favorite artist, when I first began to paint, was actually Cézanne' (Morandi, quoted in E. Roditi, 'Giorgio Morandi', in exh. cat., Giorgio Morandi: esposición antológica, Madrid, 1999, p. 324).
Despite the scenery in Paesaggio being outdoors, there remains a potent sense of interiority in this landscape. Indeed, in some way Morandi's very personal rendering of the landscape reveals more of his understanding of the world, of nature, than his still-life works. His lack of power over the actual placing of the houses, of the hills, unlike the vases of his still-life paintings, is a tribute in itself to his appreciation of nature. Indirectly, he shows that where he needs time and thought to find the perfect, harmonious grouping and placing of domestic vessels, here nature has outdone him. Thus the landscape is an image born of Morandi's contemplation of Grizzana, making Paesaggio a celebration of the underlying harmony of the world as a whole.