Il grande metafisico (1917)
La macchina metafisica (1973 - 1980) : 3 - Projections
Il Grande Metafisico 1

The 1917 version of Il grande metafisico (The Grand Metaphysician) was one of several similarly titled paintings depicting a figure-like central assemblage made from technical drawing equipment, similar to that used by architects and engineers (fig.1). From a young age De Chirico was familiar with this type of drawing equipment because his father was an architect who specialised in designing railway related architecture.

A unique feature of the 1917 version is the presence of Odysseus (Ulysses), whose silhouetted figure stands at the back of the piazza (fig.2). His melancholic posture, borrowed from Arnold Böcklin's Odysseus and Calypso (1883), gives the piazza a distinctly mournful atmosphere, which is heightened by the sense of deep space engendered by the contrast in scale between Odysseus and the much larger construction signifying the grand metaphysician.

This painting were central to the research carried out into the relationship between metaphysics and perspective in De Chirico's oeuvre.

Giorgio de Chirico
Odysseus detail 2
Fig.1 Il grande metafisico 1917

Fig.2 as above, detail showing Odysseus

Fig.3 Il grande metafisico (signed 1916, but probably painted much later)

Fig.4 Il grande metafisico 1971

Fig.5 Il grande metafisico 1970 (Bornze)

Fig.6 Maurice Owen, The Grand Metaphysician,1980, bronze, after Il grande metafisico, 1917. Pictured on Sigmund Freud's writing desk.
Il grande metafisico bronze 5