Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, born Greece, 1888–1978)
Oil and graphite on canvas
53 3/8 x 71 in. (135.6 x 180.3 cm)
Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995 (1996.403.10)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
A statue of a slumbering Ariadne occupies the foreground of this image of a desolate public square, rendered in de Chirico's distinctive simple and broad forms. According to the Greek myth, Theseus abandoned his lover Ariadne on the island of Naxos while she slept. Ariadne acquired great personal symbolic meaning for de Chirico after he moved to Paris in 1911 and entered a period of isolation and loneliness. A dreamy escape into the classical past, the painting also serves as a retreat into de Chirico's memories of his childhood in Greece.