This work is sold with a photo-certificate signed by Nicola Campigli and dated Saint-Tropez, 1 March 1991.
Saturated in a deep and absorbing atmosphere of strangeness and stillness, Campigli's Le barche presents the viewer with the image of an arcane odyssey. The figures, depicted with a deliberate restraint, are both modern and universal, yet their forms reflect Campigli's fascination with the art of the ancient Egyptians and, more importantly, with the Etruscans of his native Italy. Even the theme appears to combine his interest in the ancient and the modern, with boats conspicuously devoid of modern technology shown on an open sea. Yet this is less the Greek fleet approaching Troy than a pleasure cruise, the picture dotted with parasols reminiscent more of a Boudin painting than an Attic vase. Harnessing a mysterious ambience reminiscent of Pittura Metafisica, Campigli presents us with an image that shows Italy's past and present fusing in a strange and poetic way. Le barche even recalls the murals of the Romans in its texture, making this link all the more explicit.
The confrontation with past and present is made all the more explicit by the fact that these people, with their hazy quasi-universal faces, are all facing the viewer. They are an expectant audience, recalling Campigli's celebrated pictures of the crowds of people in a theatre, implying that the world that we occupy is somehow unreal, a performance for these timeless and ancestral figures. At the same time, Le barche implies that we too are on a similar journey through history, an epic voyage of our own, sharing some unspoken and hieratic purpose with these fellow travellers.