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Victorious Love

Giorgio de Chirico, Italian (born Greece), 1888 - 1978

c. 1918-1925

Charcoal with erasing and stumping on laid paper

Sheet: 20 1/2 x 15 13/16 inches (52.1 x 40.1 cm)

© 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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A painter whose mysterious and poetical images of the second decade of the twentieth century prefigured the later arcane experiments of the Surrealists, de Chirico may have been making some point about the inaccessibility of human identity in depicting these monumental, mannequin-like heads.

Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    While de Chirico included recognizable human figures in a number of his paintings, he eschewed rendering the nude body. He was a talented portraitist, as can be seen in his 1914 Portrait of Guillaume Apollinaire (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris), but it was in his use of masks and armor that he made his most pointed comments on the inaccessibility of identity. The present drawing presents a pair of heads, a woman’s and a man’s, and the artist’s own title for the work suggests their relationship. The figures are reduced to mannequins, their faces disguised behind impenetrable armor. De Chirico had begun to use the image of the mannequin in Paris before World War I, apparently inspired by Savinio’s dramatic poem Les Chants de la mi-monts (“De Chirico, Giorgio.” The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, Oxford University Press. Accessed September 2003). The fact that the artist chose to illuminate the gently inclined woman’s head, arraying her in a decorative headband and pleated sleeves, affords her a measure of seductive femininity. By contrast, the man is rigidly attired and coiffed, his eyes shown only as disturbing black rectangles, a threatening if amorous presence. Compositionally, the two heads are linked by the suggestion of a flat horizon in the background, another of the artist’s favorite devices in his landscape paintings but here unadorned with any hint of location, urban or rural. The drawing is large and carefully worked, indicating that de Chirico meant it to be taken seriously. The seeming simplicity of the artist’s compositions and their linear definition has prompted a number of forgeries, some by his own hand. Although Anthony Clark, in his 1973 Minneapolis exhibition Fakes and Forgeries, included this drawing as the genuine article, as early as 1954 James Thrall Soby pointed out inconsistencies concerning its medium, Greek inscription, and possible dating, which he concluded to be around 1925 (correspondence, Soby to Marianne W. Martin, 23 and 29 June 1954) but which has also been suggested to be as early as 1918 (Art in Focus, vol. 6, no. 2 [November 1954], p. 1). Michael Taylor has noted in conversation that more research is needed to establish the drawing’s authenticity. Mimi Cazort, from Italian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2004), cat. 76.


    "Art’s Flight from Man,” Art in Focus, vol. 6, no. 2 (November 1954), p. 1, repro.;
    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Fakes and Forgeries. Exhibition catalogue. Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1973, no. 205, repro.