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The Collection

In 1990, following the demise of the artist’s widow, Isabella Pakszwer Far, the Foundation inherited the artist’s apartment-studio as well as the majority of his artistic patrimony, which comprises of numerous paintings, works on paper and sculptures, dating from the mid 1920s onwards. The collection consists for the most part of works executed by de Chirico during the last 30 years of his life, many of which were exhibited while the couple were living in the apartment (now the de Chirico House-museum). In 1987, Isabella donated 24 of the artist’s works to Rome’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (G.N.A.M.). Some of the Maestro’s earliest paintings were among the works bequeathed: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1911), Lucretia (1921), Portrait of a Pregnant Woman after Raphael (1923) and the well known Self-Portrait in the Parisian Studio (1934-35).

A selection of representative works from the collection is presented in this section. De Chirico’s pictorial production constitutes the majority of works in the collection and includes paintings such as The Prodigal SonOrpheus the Tired TroubadourThe Return of Ulysses, Old Master copies such as The Three Graces after Rubens (1954) and The Doge’s Palace, Venice (1955) after Canaletto, as well as various still-lifes including one of the collection’s earliest works, Still life with Knife (1932). In addition, the collection conserves a number of portraits de Chirico painted of his wife Isa, as well as a selection of self-portraits, including the famous Self-portrait with Armour (1948) and Self-portrait in the Park (1959). The Foundation’s collection is unique in that it holds the largest single collection of works belonging to the artist’s so-called Neo-metaphysical period (1968-76), an epoch in which de Chirico returned to some of his early iconographic subjects such as the Mannequins and Archaeologists, as well as his mythological characters Hector and Andromache, subjects he reinterpreted in a new light, with brighter colours and serene atmospheres. At the time, themes such as the Suns, the Mysterious Baths and the Trophies also came back to life, along with the artist’s revolutionary spatial inventions such as the Italian Piazza and Metaphysical Interiors of his early metaphysical period.

Amongst the sculptures in the collection, a small terracotta work painted by hand constitutes one of the artist’s first plastic experiments: The Archaeologists (1940). Serial bronze sculpture is particularly prominent in number – sculptures exclusively cast in bronze, with either a dark, gold or silver patina –, a technique through which de Chirico rendered the classic protagonists of his paintings into three-dimensional form. The monumental posthumous sculpture, Hector and Andromache (1986), stands tall at 230 cm at the entrance of Palazzo dei Borgognoni, 31 Piazza di Spagna, greeting visitors on their way to the House-museum upstairs.

The Foundation has continued to enrich its patrimony over the years with various acquisitions with the aim of amplifying the perspective on de Chirico’s multifaceted production. In 2004, the monumental sculptural work, The Fish was acquired. Sculpted from Vicenza stone, the piece was once part of the Mysterious Baths Fountain (1973) located in Milan’s Sempione Park. The Fish is now on permanent loan to the Municipality of Milan and is presently on exhibit in the recently opened Museo del Novecento (December 2010). In 2004, the Foundation also acquired a copy of the 1941 edition of Apocalypse, edited by Raffaele Carrieri (a limited edition of 160 with 20 lithographs by the artist). The Foundation’s copy contains an additional 10 pastel-coloured plates by the artist. Amongst other acquisitions, the 2006 purchase of a group of theatre costumes is of particular interest. The collection consists of 19 costumes (some of which are hand-painted), designed by de Chirico for the 1931 production of Pulcinella, Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo and the 1938 production of Protée. During the last several years, a number of drawings dating from the 1920s and 1930s have also been added to the collection, including Furniture in the Valley of 1927. The Foundation also has a number of works on permanent loan to various museums, including the monumental patinated bronze sculpture The Archaeologists at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome.

For its noteworthy size (over 600 artworks), the extraordinary quality of the individual pieces and the variety of techniques represented, the Foundation’s collection provides a utterly unique “point of view” on the artist’s overall production: a privileged perspective following the continual variations tracing the long course of de Chirico’s artistic journey and the continuous metamorphoses of his Metaphysical Art.