Lot 10
  • 10

Giorgio de Chirico

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
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  • Giorgio de Chirico
  • Le Printemps
  • Oil on canvas
  • 13 3/4 by 10 5/8 in.
  • 35 by 27 cm


Colette Jéramec Tchernia, Paris (acquired through the advisement of André Breton in the 1920s)

André & Gil Tchernia, Paris (acquired from the above in 1962)

André François Petit (acquired from the above in 1969)

Galerie Tarica, Paris (acquired from the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owners


(possibly) Paris, Galerie Paul Guillaume, 1922, no. 55 (titled L'Enfant géniale)

London, Hayward Gallery, Dada and Surrealism reviewed, 1978, no. 1-11, illustrated in color

New York, The Museum of Modern Art; London, Tate Gallery; Munich, Haus der Kunst & Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Giorgio de Chirico, 1982-83, illustrated in color in the catalogue pl. 38

Turin, Palazzo Bricherasio, Luce de Mediterraneo, 1997, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Zurich, Kunsthaus; Munich, Haus der Kunst & Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Arnold Bochlin, Georgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, ein Reise ins Unsgewisse, 1997-98, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung NRW, Puppen, Konper Automaten, 1999, illustrated in color in the catalogue

London, Tate Modern & New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Surrealism, Desire Unbound, 2001-02, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Dusseldorf, KNW & Munich, Stadtische Galerie em Lenbachhaus, Die andere Moderne. De Chirico - Savinio, 2001-02, no. 43, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Stuttgart, Kunstsammlung NRW, The Other Modernism – de Chirico/Savinio, 2001, no. 11, illustrated in color in the catalogue

München, Städtische Galerie im Lenbach-Haus, 2001-02

Nantes, Musée des Beaux-Arts, L'Action restreinte, l'art moderne selon Mallarme, 2005, no. 715, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Winterthur, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Giorgio de Chirico – Werke 1909–1971 in Schweizer Sammlungen, 2008, no. 15, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Galerie d'Art L'Oeil, Paris, 1962, listed

André Breton, Le Surréalisme et la peinture, Paris, 1965, illustrated p. 61

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Soby, 1981, no. 61, titled Composizione metafisica

Ester Coen, La Metafisica: Museo documentario: Ferrara, Palazzo Massari, Ferrara, 1981, no.120

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Apollinaire, Paris, 1981, no. 62, titled Composizione metafisica

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de De Chirico, Milan, 1984, no. 62

Paolo Baldacci, De Chirico, La Metaphysique, Milan, 1997, no. 69, illustrated in color p. 246

Wieland Schmied, Giorgio de Chirico, Munich, 2001, illustrated in color p. 57


Very good condition. Original canvas. Under UV, there is a small area of restoration about the sailboat in the sky, and a small retouching to the black to the left of the figure.
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

Le Printemps is an important example of de Chirico's 'Metaphysical' paintings. Executed in the years before World War I, this important series signified an early foray into the realm of the unconscious and free association that would come to characterize Surrealist paintings nearly a decade later. The term 'metaphysical' had first been given to De Chirico's paintings in 1914 by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire and referred to the enigmatic quality of his urban landscapes. De Chirico's best metaphysical compositions are oddly devoid of any life, exposing the evocative and melancholic power of inanimate objects. The philosophical objectives of these paintings drew upon an amalgam of the teachings of the German philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Otto Weininger.

The early Metaphysical works from 1911-12, such as Le matinée angoissante, carried emotionally resonant titles and were often populated by eerily-empty piazzas and long shadows - a motif that would appear throughout the artist's career. By the time he painted the present work in 1914, de Chirico had shifted his focus from the clear perspective of these early works and had begun to fill his foregrounds with a litany of objects, as if gathered for examination such as in The Scholar's Playthings.

De Chirico positions in Le Printemps a series of objects in a taxonomic manner, their inter-relations unclear but their presence unquestioned. A sculpted doll, puti-like in its description, is placed above a scroll with impenetrable heiroglyphs and a shell-like object at left echoes de Chirico's seminal work of the same year, Portrait de Guillaume Apollinaire. A shadowy colonnade exits the scene at right while a ship seems to pass in the background, visible above a red brick wall. De Chirico obfuscates a narrative link between his elements, allowing the viewer to construct their own fantastical reasoning. He pulls apart the clear system of iconography that dominated Western Art before him, epitomized in a work such as Durer's ubiquitous engraving Melancolia, and severs the clarity of symbolism. He creates a final layer of mystery in the current work in the assignation of its title.

Emily Braun has written of these works from the artist's Paris period (1911-15): "His images scrupulously denominate things out there in the world that we know how to name -- a glove, sculpture, arcade, shadow -- but displaced from any logical syntax of time and space. He set out to demystify the model of the painted image as a mere transparent copy of nature, itself a mere copy of an ideal higher truth, in the traditional of metaphysical dualism established by Plato. In the spirit of Nietzsche, de Chirico overcomes the dichotomy between appearance and reality by revealing that all is simulacrum: there is no truth, only lies, or ingrained conventions of thought that structure our reality... Painting, as the fictive mirror of a fictive reality, becomes the privileged site of revealing the truth of the lie" (E. Braun, "Greetings from a Distant Friend," in Nature According to De Chirico (exhibition catalogue), Palazzo de Esposizioni, Rome, 2010, p. 35).

This picture first belonged to Colette Jéramec, who in the 1920s was married to Roland Tual, the director of the Galerie Surréaliste. She was advised at the time by André Breton, who openly admired the works of de Chirico as vital precedents of Surrealist doctrine.