- Natura Morta (Still Life)
- Signed Morandi (lower center)
- Oil on canvas
- 11 7/8 by 17 3/4 in.
- 30.3 by 45 cm
José Luis & Beatriz Plaza, Caracas (acquired from the above in 1954 and sold: Sotheby's, London, December 9, 1997, lot 318)
Claude Berri, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
Thence by descent
Caracas, Fundación Mendoza, Giorgio Morandi, un homenaje, 1986, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue
Caracas, Fundación Mendoza, Homenaje a José Luis Plaza, 1991, no. 16
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Morandi dans l'écart du réel, 2001-02, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue
From an early stage, Morandi was inspired by the great Quattrocento masters: Masaccio, Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca. The simple, coherent structure of their fresco paintings, together with the almost sculptural rendering of volume, exerted a significant influence on his painterly style. Morandi fused these influences with lessons learned from the father of modern "Classicism," Cézanne, whose works exhibit the same compositional rigor and highly considered nature. Perhaps the most immediate characteristic of Morandi's work is his limited subject matter. The bottles, bowls and pitchers which populate his paintings hold little personal significance; rather, they are objects of meditation through which Morandi sought to resolve the composition, giving form to the artist's conception.
Natura morta, painted in 1953, demonstrates Morandi's tirelessly inventive approach. The ceramics which comprise the still-life have been chosen and arranged with great precision to achieve spatial equilibrium, while the vertical and horizontal axes are balanced harmoniously. As in Cézanne's paintings, volume is created through the interplay of color and light, rather than the precise delineation of contours or tonal modelling. As a result, the objects are imbued with a dramatic material quality – their presence on the canvas is almost spectral, at once palpable and fugitive. Morandi has employed a warm yet muted palette of complementary tones which unify the canvas surface. Most remarkable, though, is the fragile tension created between tranquility and solitude on the one hand, and a pervasive sense of emotional disquiet and isolation on the other.
Morandi's powerful compositions blend a traditional genre of painting with a thoroughly modern aesthetic. His miraculous ability to transform humble objects into something almost transcendental warrants his reputation as one of the greatest Italian artists of the twentieth century.