One of the most enigmatic, yet fascinating artists of the 20th century, Giorgio Morandi developed his highly distinctive style drawing on the influence of 15th century Italian painters, such as Masaccio and Piero della Francesca and of French Modernists, such as Camille Corot and Paul Cezanne.
Morandi is often thought of as a painter of bottles, jars and other domestic objects. A still life with a pitcher, some boxes and a garlic-shaped bottle is what often comes to mind when thinking of the artist. The artist’s paintings are often interpreted as a quiet opposition to the chaotic modern world.
"I am essentially a painter of the kind of still-life composition that communicates a sense of tranquility and privacy, moods which I have always valued above all else." - Giorgio Morandi
The present work is the first in a series of four paintings which depict the same two shells in the same position and the first of fifteen shell paintings produced by the artist in 1943. During this period shells were usually seen by the Italian middle-class as decorative and exotic objects.
The controlled composition and the sombre colours suggest a sense of tension or anguish, perhaps offering a subtle allusion towards the psychological impact of WWII.
The present painting from 1943 captures a poetic encounter with ordinary objects that convey spatial depth and animate the scene with their subtle chromatic shades ranging from cream white to beige. This work encompasses much of Morandi’s pictorial essence and belongs to a mature period of production, in which his palette tended towards warmer tonalities and the presence of light became more palpable.
This artwork is a brilliant early example of Morandi’s mastery of still life and reveals the artist’s ability to create balanced and elegant compositions through the simplest form.