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Vestito a fiori azzurri

Dress with Blue Flowers

Domenico Gnoli (Italian, 1933–1970)


38 x 43 3/4 in. (45 x 52 x 3 in.overall)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil and sand on canvas

Not On View


Contemporary Art, Europe



Gnoli first gained recognition in Europe for his attention to ordinary objects, which he depicted with ambiguity through his distinctive cropping of shapes and his use of light to define form. While many American artists emphasize images taken from popular culture, Gnoli found his subject matter in familiar, domestic objects, such as clothing. In this painting, the rounded shape of a woman’s behind becomes the vehicle for a study in light and texture. The silhouetted form dominates the composition, exceeding the boundaries of the painting’s edge and creating a tension that is both formal and humorous. Gnoli uses trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) techniques to create a believable wrinkled effect in the pattern of the fabric stretched across his subject. The addition of sand to the paint plays with the tactile qualities of the surface, giving even more substance to the object.


The artist; with Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva, Switzerland. By 1968, with Hanspeter Schulthess-Oeri-Foundation, Basel, Switzerland; May 5, 1982, sold at Christie's, New York, lot 49 to Melvin N. Blake (b. 1927 - d. 1999) and Frank M. Purnell (b. 1930 - d. 1994), New York; gift of the estate of Melvin Blake to MFA, Boston, January 22, 2003

-Mimi Gnoli has a letter dated July 1, 1982 addressed to her mother (Annie de Garrou Gnoli) from the Offentliche Kunstammlung, Kunstmuseum Basel, (address St.Alban-Graben 16, CH-4010, tel. (61) 220828, Postcheck 40-6809), signed Dr. Christian Geelhaar, Director, which roughly said: "I thank you for your letter of May 22 and confirm that the painting, Dress with Blue Flowers by Domenico Gnoli, belonging to the Fondation Hanspeer Schulthess-Oeri was sold on May 5 by Christie's New York at a price of $20,000. We do not know who bought it and ask that you contact Christie's to obtain the desired information." Mimi Gnoli noted that
-Christie's didn't give the information." She added that her bother was under contract with Galerie Jan Krugier until 1968.

-1968 exhibition at Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels lists the work as in the collection of the Kunstmuseum, Basel (the Schulthess-Oeri-Foundation loaned the work to the museum)
-Sent a letter to Galerie Jan Krugier, Ditesheim & Cie on April 20, 2004 to confirm provenance, but did not receive anything from them.

Credit Line

Melvin Blake and Frank Purnell Collection


© 2011 Domenico Gnoli / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome.