The sensual and Mediterranean iconography of The Sunbather, from around 1930, represents a significant step forward in Giorgio de Chirico’s long and productive artistic career. The work appeared in the artist’s personal exhibition in Milan in 1931, with the title The Abandonment of Ariadne, a clear echo of his undying love for the classical world. It was immediately purchased in 1933 by Galleria Il Faro in Turin, where the artist exhibited many nudes painted in those years. In Ariadne’s features can perhaps be recognised those of de Chirico’s second wife, Isabella Far, who modelled for several of his paintings in those years. Giorgio de Chirico was born of an Italian family in Volos, Greece, where he began his artistic education. In 1906, together with his younger brother, also an artist, known by the pseudonym Alberto Savinio, and his mother, he moved to Munich. Here he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, where he became fascinated in the mythological works of Böcklin and Klinger. After a brief stay in Italy, he moved to Paris in 1911, via Turin, a city that struck him due to the strict monumentality of its buildings in the warm summer light, the memory of which he preserved in his first metaphysical paintings. He began to exhibit in 1912 at the Salon d’Automne in Paris; after enlisting, he was sent to Ferrara, another city symbolic of his first metaphysical phase, where he met Filippo de Pisis and Carlo Carrà. There his period of “metaphysical painting” began, consisting in exposing the deepest and most unusual side of objects, monuments, and combined figures to create surprising relationships. After the war, he established himself in Rome, where he collaborated with the magazine Valori Plastici and proposed a return to ancient craft and painting. During his stay in Paris, from 1925 to 1931, where he came into contact with Surrealists, he developed the themes typical of his subsequent work: manikins, trophies, archaeological finds, horses on a beach, furniture in a valley and landscapes in a room, in a direction partly shared with his brother. In the early 1930s, de Chirico moved away from the “fantasy” genre, as he himself defined it, presenting in 1931 nudes and still lifes in a Realist style and returning to experiment with nature and the museum (Fagiolo dell’Arco, 1995, p. 65). This is the context of his rediscovery of Auguste Renoir’s “Bourgeois Naturalism”, appreciated since 1920, the year in which de Chirico had dedicated a long critical interview to the French master in the pages of the magazine “Il Convegno”. Reacquainting himself with Renoir’s earliest style, de Chirico revisited his subjects (including the titles) of bathing women of ample and sensual proportions with a soft pictorial material and suffused colours, without forsaking the visionary emblems of his previous work, finding space for archaeological remnants, fragments of columns and toy temples.


  • Title: Bather in the sun (Ariadne Abandoned)
  • Creator: Giorgio de Chirico
  • Creator Lifespan: 1888 - 1978
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Rome
  • Creator Birth Place: Volos
  • Date: [1931]
  • Physical Dimensions: w138 x h76 cm
  • Date of restoration: 1990
  • Date of acquisition: 1933
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Il Faro Gallery, Turin
  • Provenance: GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: All rights reserved, GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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