Gino Severini
Natura morta, 1918

[In Paris], entering my new studio, I immediately had the impression that I had done wrong to change; the new walls, recently painted in gray, disoriented me, while the gray of the other study had refined, had become rare, thanks to a few years of life and light, and therefore was familiar to me. Even the light was different and these things matter a lot to painters ... I had started, despite everything, to work with a lot of energy; and after a time I was able to show Rosenberg several completed works.

Gino Severini
Natura morta, 1918
oil on board
60 x 82 cm

Immediately after the armistice, there was an unprecedented resumption of all activity in Paris, an astounding enthusiasm in everything. Foreign artists flocked from all over ... Italians, in the field of avant-garde art, were none other than Modigliani and me; but… soon so many foreigners came to Paris that, at a certain moment, the artists were about forty thousand.

Gino Severini in his studio in Paris in 1915. In the background some works of the period.

Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso e André Salmon
in Paris in 1915.

Guillaume Apollinaire in Paris in 1917.
(Courtesy Roger-Viollet).

On the back, the painting bears the handwritten date Janvier 1918.

In the months preceding the armistice, Paris once again became a city in great turmoil. New large and small galleries are opening. The rue de la Boétie, which extends as far as Faubourg de Saint-Honoré, ideally becomes the center of the great galleries. L’Effort Moderne also begins an extraordinary activity. Fernand Léger returned well before the armistice, resuming working for Rosenberg.
The artists who report to his gallery are just over a dozen, including Juan Gris, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Severini himself.

The gallery "L’Effort Moderne", located at 19 rue de la Baume (VIIIème) was not like the others; it consisted of two floors and a ground floor of a building and did not have a window on the street. It was therefore, as they say in Paris, a "petit hôtel particulier" and therefore had a more aristocratic than commercial air. This greatly intimidated the artists and visitors in general, despite the fact that at the main entrance it was a man dressed in black who, with great courtesy, opened and closed the glass door.

In the detail reproduced here, some elements of singular refinement can be seen: the golden profiles of the "Petit Beurre" box, the reference to the handwriting of the advertising inserts of the time, the refinement of the shaded shadows, the dripping in relief that defines the overlapping marble tops , the memory of futurist pointillism, the skilful balance of color combinations.

The painting, formerly owned by Alfonso Orombelli, a well-known Milanese collector, is part of the selection of works chosen for the personal room at the 25th Venice Biennale in 1950. 32 paintings are exhibited for the occasion, including two still lifes from 1919. owned by Henry and Mary Duckett. The painting appears in 1957 in the great Italian art exhibition organized by the Rome Quadriennale at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, then in the artist's rich anthology in Palazzo Venezia in Rome in 1961.