”Many people do not realize that in order to understand certain exceptional creations of the human spirit it is necessary to begin to dig within the work. One must never fix one’s glance on the surface in the hope of advancing into depth, but start from the wings... the background, to reach the surface and the footlights... Thus changing positions, I entered the Apocalypse...” -de Chirico
ONE OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT ILLUSTRATED BOOKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY: de Chirico’s series of original lithographs illustrating The Apocalypse, complete with 20 large lithographs - 10 hand-colored with pastels - EACH SIGNED BY DE CHIRICO.
With an important provenance: An out-of-commerce copy (out of an edition of only 150 numbered copies) for Massimo Bontempelli, who wrote the introduction.
“It was almost certainly the feeling of impending doom during the Second World War (1939-1945) that drew de Chirico to illustrate the Apocalypse. He may have felt particularly threatened because his wife, Isabella, was Jewish. He may also have been attracted by the fantastical aspect of the Revelations of St John the Divine in the Bible... De Chirico was also very interested in the work of great artists of the past, and would have been familiar with many earlier Apocalypse illustrations, particularly those by the Renaissance German artist Albrecht Dürer. Parallels can be drawn between Dürer's illustrations and de Chirico's for many of the plates...” (Victoria and Albert Museum).
Provenance: An out-of-commerce copy with “Massimo Bontempelli” printed in the colophon. WITH: A letter from the editor Raffaele Carrieri dated Milan, 16 December 1940, to Bontempelli, asking him to write the introduction.
The letter (translated from the original Italian) reads:
"Dear Bontempelli, Mrs. Marzoli called you to request the introduction to and adaptation of the Apocalypse. We have not received any answers yet. I would very much like your name to be linked to this great work that, as you know, will be illustrated by Giorgio De Chirico with twenty large original lithographs. Please, as I urgently need to finish, let me know something about it soon. Good work. I shake your hand, Yours. " Signed by Carrieri and with the additional autograph comment: "Your Colombo is fabulous!". Bontempelli would indeed write the introduction and this copy contains corrections to the text in pencil, almost certainly made by Bontempelli.
Bontempelli (1878-1960) was a major figure in Italian and European literature and art in the first half of the 20th century, spreading surrealism and futurism in his work as poet, novelist, dramatist, and critic. He won countless awards, including the prestigious Strega Prize - Italy’s highest literary award - for a collection of surrealistic stories.
Total edition: 150 numbered copies, printed on Japan paper in the Officina d’Arte Grafica A. Lucini & C. in Milan, on April 5, 1941. The lithographs were printed by hand in the studio of the painter Piero Fornasetti and are all signed by de Chirico in pencil.
Milan: Edizioni Della Chimera, 1941. Folio (347 x 272 mm), original illustrated wrappers, original glassine, original chemise. Illustrated with 20 lithographs signed by De Chirico, of which 10 are colored by hand with pastels. Title page in red and black. Initials in red. Original wrappers with illustration by de Chirico on front cover. Without original slipcase around chemise, but with custom box by noted book artist Sjoerd Hofstra. Some wear to chemise, book and plates in fine condition.
A SCARCE, COMPLETE COPY WITH A STRONG PROVENANCE.
Price: $20,000 .