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Giorgio de Chirico
The Melancholy of Departure (Melanconia della partenza)
Oil on canvas

518 x 359 mm

Tate Britain

Excerpt from Tate, London

[Catalogue entry]

Inscribed G. de Chirico t.r.
Oil on canvas, 20 3/8 x 14 3/16 (51.8 x 36)
Purchased from Cofinarte (Grant-in-Aid) 1978
Prov: René Gaffé, Brussels through Zwemmer Gallery, London Sir Roland Penrose, London, 1937 Cofinarte, Switzerland

Exh: [?Giorgio de Chirico, Galerie Paul Guillaume, Paris, June 1926 (13) as Mélancolie du Départ] Chirico-Picasso, Zwemmer Gallery, London, June 1937 (5) as Mélancolie du Départ 1915 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris, January-February 1938 (not in catalogue) The Impact of Machines, London Gallery, London, July-August 1938 (64) Giorgio de Chirico (1911-17), London Gallery, London, October-November 1938 (8) The Early Chirico, 1911-17, London Gallery, London, April 1949 (8) Gloire de la Peinture Moderne: Hommage à James Ensor, Palais des Thermes, Ostend, July-August 1949 (48, repr.) Eretentoonstelling James Ensor, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, September-October 1949 (48) Le Muse Inquietanti: Maestri del Surrealismo, Galleria Civica dArte Moderna, Turin, November 1967-January 1968 (54, repr.) Metafisica di de Chirico, Galleria Annunciata, Milan, April-May 1968 (works not listed, repr.) Proposal for a Collection of Contemporary Art, Cultural Center of the Philippines Museum, Manila, October-November 1976 (11, repr. in colour) Fundamental Aspects of Modernism, Fine Arts Gallery, California State University, Northridge, March-April 1977 (10, repr. in colour) Early Twentieth Century Masterpainters, Museum of Albuquerque, June-July 1977 (10, repr. in colour) Du Spatialisme au Futurisme Italien, Musée Rath, Geneva, October 1977-January 1978 (40, repr. in black and white, and detail in colour) Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, Hayward Gallery, London, January-March 1978 (1.14, repr. in colour)

Lit: James Thrall Soby, Giorgio de Chirico (New York 1955), pp.112-13, repr. p.222 Claudio Bruni, Catalogo Generale Giorgio de Chirico. Volume primo: Opere dal 1908 al 1930 (Milan c.1971), No.36, repr. as Melanconia della Partenza 1916 Marianne W. Martin, Reflections on De Chirico and Arte Metafisica in Art Bulletin, LX, 1978, pp.351-2, repr. p.351
Repr: Isabella Far, de Chirico (New York 1968), pl.27 in colour as The Melancholy of Departure 1916

This picture was painted in Ferrara during the war at a time when de Chirico was serving as a clerk in the Italian Army, but was able to resume painting in his spare time partly in barracks, partly in furnished rooms and hotels, and partly in military hospitals. It is one of three still-life paintings made at this period with maps and with a loose scaffolding of forms in the background, the others being Politics and Evangelical Still Life, both of which are signed and dated 1916. On style it would seem to be the last or the last but one of the three.

A. Bates has noted that the map in Evangelical Still Life (now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York) is the same as the one in Carlo Carràs Metaphysical Muse of 1917 and that the latter shows more of the surrounding area, which makes it possible to identify the site as the Istrian Peninsula just south of Trieste and containing the towns Fiume and Pola. On the other hand, the maps in The Melancholy of Departure and Politics have not been identified, and it seems very probable that the one in this work (which includes a dotted line indicating the route of a sea or lake voyage) is purely imaginary.

The theme of travelling is recurrent in de Chirico’s works of about 1913-16 and there are several earlier paintings of piazzas and colonnades, with trains puffing smoke in the background, which have titles of this kind, such as The Anxious Journey 1913 in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Anguish of Departure 1914 in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. One of the paintings of this type made in 1914 is also sometimes known as The Melancholy of Departure, though more usually nowadays as Gare Montparnasse.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery’s Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.120-1, reproduced p.120


Additional Information

Giorgio de Chirico: Selected Biographies on Art in Context

Giorgio de Chirico: Related Links on Art in Context


Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, b. Greece, 1888–1978)
b. July 10, 1888
d. 1978

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Art in Context - Art for the Day: July 10

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