Lot 254
  • 254

Giorgio de Chirico

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Giorgio de Chirico
  • Trovatore
  • 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


Claudio Bruni Sakraischik, Catalogo Generale Giorgio de Chirico, vol. VIII, Milan, 1983, no. 772, illustrated


This painting is unlined and still stretched on its original stretcher. Very slight waves in the canvas have developed in the corners. The paint layer has been cleaned, lightly varnished and retouched. The retouches are all confined to the sky above the shoulders and to either side of the head of the figure. There are no retouches to the figure, the architecture, the landscape or the lower part of the sky. The retouches in the sky very accurately and finely address the most visible of the drying cracks that have developed in the green pigment. Very small cracking remains throughout this area, which have not been retouched. The canvas should perhaps be attented to in the corners to reduce the waves, but the retouches are perfectly adequate and the painting need not be further retouched. The above condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com , an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

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 soirĂ©es 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.