Influenced initially by Cézanne and subsequently by de Chirico, Morandi confined his investigations in paintings to a narrow range, focusing his subject matter on landscape and, most notably, on still lifes featuring ordinary jars and bottles. In this work, three containers have been arranged so as to touch one another and form a continuous block. The painted field of the table, on which the objects sit, surrounds them and seems almost to pin them down. The flat planes of table and wall are energetically rendered, containing as much painterly incident as the ostensible subject of the work – the objects themselves.
On one hand, these objects are little more than a pretext for making a painting – examining how paint can render light and substance; on the other, the way that the compressed forms seem to jostle one another, as if possessing a life of their own, is evidence of the artist’s early experience with Pittura Metafisica. Further, the disposition of the objects gives the edge of the table the visual force of the horizon of a vast landscape. As much as Morandi limited his means to a few objects and a subtly restricted palette, he created paintings of surprising intensity and no little ambiguity (see Pasquali, 1989).
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection 3 volume catalogue, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997).
Purchased by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury from Galleria del Milione in Milan in 1954.
Bequeathed by Lady Sainsbury to the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia in 2014.
Title/Description: Still Life
Artist/Maker: Giorgio Morandi
Object Type: Painting
Measurements: h. 265 x w. 410 mm (framed h. 375 x w. 500 x d. 60 mm)
Accession Number: RLS 22
Historic Period: 20th century
Credit Line: Bequeathed by Lady Sainsbury, 2014