In 1910 Giorgio de Chirico conceives that painting can display the indistinguishable and the revelation. In 1912 and 1913, he devotes eight works to Ariadne's final sleep in Naxos, when she did not yet know that Theseus had fled.
The piazza is huge and deserted. Ariadne is a recumbent in marble symbolizing loneliness, but the position of the arms evokes sleep and life. The late afternoon brings the mysterious threat of shadows. The piazza is closed by an antique brick tomb but personal symbols of the artist, the train and the boat, are still beyond.
Il Pomeriggio di Arianna, painted in 1913, is the dreamlike culmination of the series. Ariadne is almost androgynous. The brick tower, as vertiginous as a skyscraper, is flanked by a broken column of similar height. This oil on canvas 135 x 65 cm is estimated $ 10M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on October 28, lot 115.
De Chirico brought a metaphysical dimension to symbolism. His Ariadne series anticipates surrealism in substance, through recourse to the psyche, and in form, through deliberately contradictory elements. Especially in Il Pomeriggio, the inverted perspective of the stele reminds the foreshortening of the Dead Christ by Mantegna.