The Mysterious Departure

Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888-1978)

Currently on View in H200
Image Licensing

De Chirico's most influential works were the piazza, or town square, images featuring empty colonnades, moonstruck spaces, and long shadows. These paintings were greatly admired by the French Surrealist artist and poets, who explored the enigmatic world of dreams and the unconscious.

The artist painted his first piazza works in 1910. Due to their popularity, he continued this theme throughout his career. This view of a nameless statue presiding over a vacant square was executed in the 1930s.

In possession of the artist in 1935. {1} (Mayor Gallery, London, England). {2} Probably (Georgette Passedoit Gallery, New York, New York) by 1937.{3} Possibly (Valentine Dudensing, New York, New York); {4} (Theodore Schempp, New York, New York); sold to Caroline Marmon Fesler [1878-1960], Indianapolis, Indiana, in January 1944; {5} bequeathed to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, in June 1961.

{1} A label on the back of the frame reads: 'Vystaveno na vystave, Umelecké 5.V. 1935, cis. kat. 27'. This label makes reference to a 4-page catalogue of an exhibition entitled Giorgio de Chirico: Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings held in the Alsov Room of the Umelecká Beseda (Artistic Forum, a Czech society of artists, literary figures and musicians active from 1863 to 1973) in 1935 and sponsored by the ambassador of the Kingdom of Italy in Prague. In a short introduction written by de Chirico, he notes that he will give a lecture in Prague during the course of the exhibition; catalogue number 27 reads: 'Pomník velkému muzi, 1914, 6.000 Kc (Monument to a Great Man, 1914, 6,000 Czech crowns). In addition, the back of the frame bears a custom's stamp: 'R. Dog. Internationale di Chiasso, 3. Ago. 33', and a stamp from another exhibition in Czechoslovakia: 'Skupiny V.U. cerven 1935'.
{2} A Mayor Gallery label bearing the stock number 1328 appears on the back of frame. The majority of the early records of the Mayor Gallery were destroyed in WWII, and Andrew S. Murray of the Mayor Gallery, in correspondence dated February 2003, indicates that their incomplete records from this period do not contain a reference to stock number 1328.
{3} A painting with the title "Mysterious Departure" was included in and exhibition at this gallery in April 1937; see New York Times, "A Reviewer's Notebook," 11 April 1937.
{4} A hand-written note in IMA Historical File (61.40) suggests that Schempp got the painting from Valentine Dudensing.
{5} IMA Temporary Receipt No. 4508 indicating arrival of the painting in Indianapolis.

Object Information

Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888-1978)
creation date
about 1930-1933
oil on canvas
21-7/16 x 27-1/2 in.
29 x 35 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Bequest of Mrs. James W. Fesler
© Giorgio de Chirico
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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