Lot 8
  • 8

Giorgio de Chirico

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Giorgio de Chirico
  • La meditazione del mattino
  • Signed Giorgio de Chirico and dated 1912 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 20 1/2 by 27 1/2 in.
  • 52 by 70 cm


Arturo Tosi, Milan (acquired in 1921; until circa 1950)

Riccardo & Magda Jucker, Milan (acquired circa 1950; until 1988)

Private Collection, Lugano (inherited from the above)

Private Collection

Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris

Acquired from the above


Paris, Exposition d'œuvres de Giorgio de Chirico dans son atelier, 1913

Milan, Galleria d'Arte, Mostra personale del pittore Giorgio de Chirico, 1921, no. 5

Como, Villa Olmo, Mostra di pittura moderna Italiana a cura di A. Sartoris, 1936, no. 51 (titled Ricordo d'Italia)

San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, Contemporary Art - Golden Gate Exhibition, 1939, no. 14

Venice, Esposizione  XXIV Biennale Internazionale d'arte Venezia, 1948

Zürich, Kunshaus, Futurismo e Pittura metafisica, 1950

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Art Italien contemporain, 1950

Basel, Kunsthalle, Fantastische Kunst des XX Jahrhunderts, 1952

Munich, Haus der Kunst, Arte Italiana dal 1910 ad Oggi, 1957

Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Giorgio di Chirico, 1967-68, no. 44

Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Giorgio de Chirico, 1979, no. 12, illustrated in the catalogue

Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Giorgio De Chirico - 1888/1978, 1981-82, no. 5, illustrated in the catalogue

New York, Museum of Modern Art & London, The Tate Gallery, De Chirico, 1982, no. 9, illustrated in the catalogue

Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Giorgio de Chirico, 1992-93

Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen & Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Die andere Moderne - De Chirico, Savinio, 2001-02, no. 10, illustrated in color in the catalogue (as dating from 1911-12)

Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Giorgio de Chirico, La Fabrique des rêves, 2009, no. 15, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Enrico Somaré, "Esposizioni di Milano.  Mostra personale del pittore Giorgio de Chirico," Il Primato, Milan, March-April 1921, p. 31

Boris Ternovetz, Giorgio de Chirico, Milan, 1928, illustrated pl. 2

'Giorgio de Chirico', in Selection. Chronique de la vie artistique, Antwerp, December 1929, vol. 8, illustrated p. 35

Giuseppe Maria Lo Duca, Giorgio de Chirico, Milan, 1936, illustrated pl. III

James Thrall Soby, The Early Chirico, New York, 1941, illustrated pl. 6 (as dating from 1910-12)

Giuseppe Maria Lo Duca, Dipinti di Giorgio De Chirico: 1912-1932, Milan, 1945, illustrated pl. II (titled La Meditazione mattinale)

Raffaele Carrieri, Pittura e Sculptura d'avanguardia in Italia, Milan, 1950

Gian Alberto dell'Acqua, "La peinture metaphysique," Cahiers d'art, no. 25, Paris, 1950,  p. 123 

James Thrall Soby, Giorgio de Chirico, New York, 1955, illustrated in color p. 39

Marco Valsechhi, La Pittura Metafisica.  De Chirico, Carra, Morandi, Milan, 1958

Isabella Far, De Chirico, New York, 1968, illustrated pl. 50

Patrick Waldberg, Giorgio de Chirico e la nascita della metafisica, Milan, 1968, no. 55

Isabella Far de Chirico & Domenico Porzio (eds.), Conoscere De Chirico. La vita e l'opera dell'inventore della pittura metafisica, Milan, 1979, no. 4, illustrated p. 16; illustrated in color p. 137; no. 13, illustrated p. 285 (titled Meditazione mattutina and as dating from 1910-11)

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Il tempo di Valori Plastici, 1980, no. 81, illustrated p. 58
William Rubin (ed.), De Chirico, New York, 1982, pl. 9, illustrated p. 138
Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, L'opera completa di De Chirico, 1908-1924, Milan, 1984, no. 17, illustrated p. 81 (illustration reversed)
Paolo Baldacci, Giorgio De Chirico, 1888-1919. La metafisica, Milan, 1997, no. 15, illustrated in color p. 116 (as dating from winter 1911-12)

Metafisica (exhibition catalogue), Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, 2003-04, illustrated p. 136


Original canvas. There are three or four small reinforcements on the left edge, visible on the reverse. The surface has small restorations, which have been applied to address some small losses. Two of these are beneath the window on the far left, and there is one in the figure or sculpture in the window. These are very minor. The restoration shows faintly under ultraviolet light and has been well applied. There are some restorations around the edges visible under ultraviolet light, predominantly on the right side and in the top of the white building above the window. These restorations may be exaggerated and may be cosmetic, and could be reexamined. Overall this picture is in good condition.
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

One of the earliest paintings De Chirico executed on the theme of a town square dominated by architecture and a classical sculpture, La Meditazione del mattino of 1912 is a seminal early work from the artist's celebrated Metaphysical period.  It was in that year, while living in Paris, that De Chirico created a group of paintings on this subject, which was to become the most iconic image of his oeuvre.  This work represents a key step in the development of the imagery that was to become not only the most enduring theme of De Chirico's painting, but also played a crucial role in the development of Modern Art.  The male classical statue that dominates the square would later be replaced by its female equivalent – the image of Ariadne asleep on the island of Naxos (figs. 1 & 2).


These mysterious, eerie compositions caught the eye of the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and De Chirico soon started frequenting his Saturday soirées at boulevard Saint-Germain, where he met a number of avant-garde artists including Constantin Brancusi, Gino Severini, Amedeo Modigliani and Francis Picabia.  Following an exhibition of De Chirico's work in the artist's Paris studio in 1913, where the present work was shown publicly for the first time, Apollinaire wrote a review in the avant-garde journal L'Intransigeant, proclaiming: "The art of this young painter is an inner, cerebral art which has no connection with that of the painters who have been discovered during the last few years.  It does not stem from Matisse or from Picasso; it does not come from the Impressionists.  This originality is new enough to warrant our attention" (G. Apollinaire, 'La Vie artistique', in L'Intransigeant, Paris, 9th October 1913; quoted in Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne (exhibition catalogue), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2002, p. 16).


Dating from 1912, La Meditazione del mattino was painted during this crucial year in which De Chirico formulated the language of objects and symbols that were to dominate his Metaphysical work until the end of the decade, and to which he would often return throughout his career.  The development of this imagery, comprising architectural and sculptural motifs, city squares and classical figures, presents not only a turning point in his own art, but also laid the foundation for Surrealist iconography, which was to flourish in the following decade.  Creating a world of enigma and uncertainty, verging between dream and reality, and depicting a condition which André Breton described as the 'irremediable human anxiety,' De Chirico's Metaphysical works had a tremendous influence on the development of Surrealist theories and aesthetics.  It was these "powerful conceptions, so dramatically expressed in his paintings, [that] served as a spiritual point of departure for the Surrealists and provided a direct, significant, and substantial contribution to Surrealist art" (Laura Rosenstock, 'De Chirico's Influence on the Surrealists,' in De Chirico, New York, 1980, p. 113).


Born in Greece from Italian parents, De Chirico was surrounded by images of the antique world since early childhood.  Classical mythology, history, art and architecture provided an endless source of inspiration for the painter, who often combined these subjects with a contemporary setting.  In the present work, however, he excluded references to a modern-day town, creating an image of a mystical and nostalgic quality.  The statue appears to be staring into the sea, creating a sense of eternity.  Only several months later, De Chirico started painting a similar motif in which the sea was replaced by a steaming train, a symbol of modernity (fig. 2).  His paintings of Italian city squares are usually conspicuously devoid of human presence; La Meditazione del mattino is mainly populated by statues, and even the man on the left, dressed in a red toga, seems to be frozen in time, echoing the stone figures around him.  


Ardengo Soffici, de Chirico's first Italian critic, observed: "The painting of de Chirico is not painting, in the sense that we use that word today.  It could be defined as a writing down of dreams.  By means of almost infinite rows of arches and facades, he truly succeeds in expressing that sensation of vastness, of solitude, of immobility, of stasis which certain sights reflected by the state of memory sometimes produce in our mind, just at the point of sleep.  Giorgio de Chirico expresses as no one else has ever done the poignant melancholy of the close of a beautiful day in an old Italian city where, at the back of a lonely piazza, beyond the setting of loggias, porticoes, and monuments to the past, a train chugs, the delivery van of a large department store is parked, or a soaring factory chimney sends smoke into the cloudless sky" (A. Soffici, De Chirico e Savinio, quoted in Joan M. Lukach, 'De Chirico and Italian Art Theory, 1915-1920', in De Chirico (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1982, p. 37).