Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico’s oil on canvas painting, The Conquest of the Philosopher, was created in 1914 and is considered a prime example of early modernist and surrealist art. In this piece, De Chirico combines a bustling Mediterranean cityscape with still-life objects such as a classical arcade, a cannon, clock, chimney and train to create an intriguing juxtaposition.
This painting is part of a series of six similar works produced by De Chirico known as ‘metaphysical paintings.’ His metaphysical period stretched from 1911 to around 1917 and encompassed much of his best-known work. Many believe that his metaphysical paintings conveyed feelings of emptiness with the use of elongated shadows, empty arcades, mannequins and towers arranged in certain ways for maximum effect. This particular work showed how powerful feelings can be relayed through art even when there isn’t necessarily anything happening in the painting.
The Conquest Of The Philosopher proved highly influential to surrealists after its creation but was also appreciated far beyond that era. It has become one of the more famous artworks to come out during this time period and continues to inspire awe among art enthusiasts today. Its unusual combination of familiar still-life objects suggests an overall feeling not unlike what we might feel while exploring ancient ruins or abandoned ghost towns – where time appears frozen but the ever-present elements all take on different meanings depending on their surroundings.