“They say that Rome is at the centre of the world and that Piazza di Spagna is in the centre of Rome, therefore, my wife and I, would indeed be living in the centre of the centre of the world, which would be the apex of centrality, and the apogee of anti-eccentricity.”
Giorgio de Chirico
The Memoirs of Giorgio de Chirico
Giorgio de Chirico’s apartment is situated on the top three floors of the 17th century Palazzetto dei Borgognoni at n° 31 Piazza di Spagna, Rome. The artist lived here for the last 30 years of his life with his wife Isabella Pakszwer Far, who continued to reside in the apartment until she passed away in 1990.
Having arrived in Rome in 1944 after extensive periods spent in various European cities and a period in New York, de Chirico settled in the apartment in 1948, when he was 60 years old. Enjoying fascinating views of Trinità dei Monti and Villa Medici towards the rear, the residence is “strategically” situated at the heart of what has been considered the city’s cultural and artistic centre since the 17th century, with the numerous artist studios and galleries located on Via Margutta and Via del Babuino as well as Via Condotti’s historic Caffè Greco which was regularly frequented by artists, writers and poets alike. For de Chirico, who was a mature and well-established artist at the time, the apartment represented an ideal place to settle and continue with his work.
Today, thanks to Isabella Pakszwer Far’s legacy, the de Chirico House-museum is accessible to the public. Inaugurated on 20 November 1998 on the 20th anniversary of the artist’s demise, the House-museum provides a unique and intimate look into the artist’s everyday life as well as an opportunity to enjoy a close-up view of the original imagery of his artwork, in a surprising and evocative weaving of art and life.
The apartment’s rooms and 1950-style furnishings were restored following a rigorous study of old photographs and historical anecdotes. On the main first floor, the luxurious rooms evoke a Rubenesque vision of grand 17th century style salons with their red damask curtains (made according to the original design), numerous ornate gold frames, wooden cherubs, marble tables and silverware and Louis XVI-style armchairs. Conceived as a magnificent “living gallery”, this area of the apartment was once a lively, vibrant place of gatherings and receptions. The paintings and sculptures are exhibited with the aim of introducing the visitor to the diverse subjects and themes elaborated on by de Chirico, in a novel and fascinating tour. The visit begins with a selection of paintings found in the main entrance and living room that date from the 1940s and 1950s including a number of splendid Great Master copies, portraits of his wife Isabella and self-portraits. One then passes through to the dining room with a selection of still-lifes before entering the extended wing of the apartment (which was added on in the late 1960s) with works executed during the last 10 years of the artist’s life, a period commonly known as Neo-metaphysics. Throughout the rooms, gold and silver patinated bronze sculptures convey de Chirico’s re-interpretation of classic mythical tales placed next to silent presences – Mannequins and Archaeologists – borne from the artist’s own personal mythology.
Climbing the stairs to the second floor, one gains access to the private area of de Chirico’s home with the bedrooms and his studio. The latter, restored as faithfully as possible to how it was when de Chirico worked in it, is without doubt the most evocative room of the entire apartment. Light filters down from a large skylight onto numerous tools of the trade – paintbrushes, tubes of paint, frames, as well as the palette used by the artist, are left as if work was about to recommence. A number of plaster casts of classical busts, gladiators and horses sit on top of the artist’s personal library which contains precious monographs on Watteau, Courbet, Delacroix and Rubens, to name just a few.
The third floor, which has limited public access, opens up onto a wide terrace where de Chirico loved to pause at different moments during the day to admire the spectacular view of Rome and of Nature.
Today, what once was the apartment’s kitchen now hosts the Foundation’s office and library, with numerous volumes of the artist’s written work, as well as solo and group exhibition catalogues. The Library can be consulted upon request, by telephoning or sending an email with a letter of presentation.