Giorgio de Chirico
- Giorgio de Chirico
- Signed g. de Chirico (lower left)
- Oil on canvas
- 39 5/8 by 27 1/2 in.
- 100 by 70 cm
Mario Papotti, Rome (acquired directly from the artist)
Claudio Bruni (acquired from the above)
Tiziano Forti, Bologna (acquired from the above)
Galleria M Marescalchi, Bologna
Acquired from the above in 1983
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Painted in 1949, Trovatore marks de Chirico's return to some of his earlier and most iconic themes. A brightly colored, totemic structure stands in a dusk-lit square based on a piazza in Ferrara, a scene featured in his Metafisica paintings of the 1910s. The celebrated figure of de Chirico's Trovatore series is a re-imagination of the artist himself, of the melancholic poet trapped in an enigmatic reality. "The black lines on the mannequins' heads which in the earlier versions are conjoined around the mouth area and later around the area of the eye, are metaphysical symbols indicating the possession of a superhuman voice and vision, by which is implied that transcendent, prophetic utterance and the superior vision bestowed, according to Greek legend, by Mnemosyne, goddess of Memory and mother of art, upon poets whom she deprived of the ordinary sight of mortals" (Paolo Baldacci, De Chirico: The Centenary sculptures, Torino, 1995, p. 79).
The faceless man, constructed from an assortment of instruments and geometrical shapes, originated in the intense intellectual and artistic collaboration between de Chirico, his brother Alberto Savinio and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. "The Italian critic, Raffaele Carrieri, has suggested that the painter's interest in this curious subject matter was aroused by a play, Les chants de la mi-mort, written by de Chirico's brother and published in Apollinaire's magazine, Les soirées de Paris, for July-August, 1914. The drama's protagonist is a 'man without voice, without eyes or face' " (James Thrall Soby, Giorgio de Chirico, New York, 1966, p. 97).
In Trovatore, de Chirico distances the figure from the low, setting horizon and the towering edifices to reinforce its solitary and monumental status. The sharp contours of its torso dominate the foreground and mirror the sharp lines of its surroundings. "In de Chirico's hands the definitive form of the mannequin would emerge, its iconography endowed with increasingly heterogeneous symbols and the stylistic elegance of late Italian Mannerism" (Paolo Baldacci, op. cit., p. 77-78). De Chirico borrows from the Mannerist traditions of distorting proportions to emphasize the torso and create the illusion of potential movement within the painting. By tapering the legs into a pair of diminutive feet, he makes the figure strain away from the background as though it was trying to escape its own physical construction.