Giorgio Morandi


During the Second World War years, Morandi turned his attention to landscapes and three different series of still-life, each with a different subject. The first featured shells, skeletons of beings no longer alive that reflected his state of mind and sense of impotence instilled by the war; The second depicted prevalently ceramic vases, pots, and crockery: fragile items of everyday use that alluded to a domestic intimacy to be preserved. The subjects of the third series were familiar objects to the artist: pitchers, bottles, and jars, rendered in this phase by dark colours just barely lightened with reddish reflections.

This still-life done in 1943 provides a valid example of the latter category in terms of technique, size, composition, and subject. Lionello Venturi included it in his book on contemporary painting, considering Morandi’s still-lifes as “poetic meditations on the relationships of form and colour, where the former is the simplest possible and the latter is the lower tonal value, the most neutral possible.” In 1943, Morandi exhibited two landscapes and one still-life at the Quadrennial of National Art in Rome, and his participation comes alive in the correspondence between the artist and Cesare Brandi, who was not particularly enthusiastic: “[he’d] done numerous and better still-lifes, such as Peppino's one [Giuseppe Raimondi], with its stretched shades.” In defence of his work, Morandi replied to his friend days later: “Bear in mind that this still-life is displayed in the most unflattering light. In my opinion, it’s better than Peppino's one. After Mr. Rollino has withdrawn it from public view at closing time, go back, take another look, and you’ll see that I’m right.” Eleven years later, the work was displayed once again at the Venice Biennale. It entered the Carraro Collection in 2007 after its purchase at the Modern and Contemporary Art auction held at Christie’s in Milan.


XXI Quadriennale d’Arte Nazionale, Casa editrice Mediterranea, Rome 1943, cat. (Roma, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, May - July 1943), page 31, n. 16; Lionello Venturi, Pittura contemporanea, Hoepli, Milan, 1948, ill. Plate 174; Lamberto Vitali, Morandi. Dipinti. General Catalogue, Electa, Milan, 1994 (first edition, 1977), vol. I, cat. 419; Franco Solmi, Morandi, Mazzotta, Mila, 1988, exhibition catalogue (Bolzano, Castel Mareccio, November – December, 1988), ill. page 17.

Giorgio Morandi
Oil on canvas. Signed “Morandi” (in lower right-hand corner).
28×45.5 cm