Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian painter, sculptor, theatrical designer and writer born in Greece in 1888, died 1978. In his earlier years he created a group of paintings portraying architectural dream worlds of Italy, obscure versions of reality, distorted and otherworldly that were very influential for the surrealists. Later on in his career he became interested in traditional techniques and worked in neoclassical or neo-Baroque style that sometimes brushed upon metaphysical themes that were featured in his earlier work.
This painting features the torso of Aphrodite, this classic contrasts with the train and the bananas which creates a sense of modernity and the present. The distortion of perspective and the shadows obscures reality, space and time. De Chirico’s early works were celebrated by the Surrealists for their sense of a parallel world.
As an Italian, when De Chirico was younger and living in Greece he felt a sense of displacement and was interested in the voyaging Argonauts of Greek mythology. This is portrayed in this painting through the juxtaposition of the map and the busy collection of objects.
In the mid-1920s de Chirico reworked many of the themes of his pre-war paintings because of his interest in the old art masters. The figures in this painting mimic the positioning of the Holy Family.