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The Soothsayer's Recompense

Giorgio de Chirico, Italian (born Greece), 1888 - 1978
In this painting by Giorgio de Chirico, ancient and modern collide to create an atmosphere outside of logical rationality and beyond normal coordinates of time and place. A statue inhabits a deserted Italian city square. It represents the sleeping Ariadne, the Cretan princess who according to Greek legend was abandoned by her lover Theseus after aiding his escape from the labyrinth of her monstrous half-brother the Minotaur. For de Chirico, Ariadne was a symbol of haunting loneliness and beauty. The style of the picture is clear and sharp, but a forced perspective plays tricks on our perception of the urban piazza. The sandy foreground with Ariadne is a realm of immobility and quiet, while the area beyond the low brick wall suggests activity and movement: a train chugs along, a cloud of smoke billowing in its wake....

Object Details
With Paul Guillaume, Paris; sold to Galerie à la Vierge Poupine, Brussels, September 30, 1926; René Gaffé, Brussels, 1927 [1]; sold through Marcel Duchamp as agent to Louise Arensberg (1879-1953) and Walter C. Arensberg (1878-1954), Los Angeles, 1932; gift to PMA, 1950.1. Paolo Baldacci, De Chirico: The Metaphysical Period, 1888-1919, trans. by Jeffrey Jennings, Boston, 1997, no. 31, illus.2. According to provenance notes made by Marcel Duchamp (letter of 8 Sept. 1951 to Arensbergs, PMA Arensberg Archives, CA Use Tax 1951).

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