Mystery And Melancholy of a Street A Profound Significance by Giorgio De Chirico

Mystery And Melancholy of a Street: A Profound Significance by Giorgio De Chirico

Works of art have the power to transport us to different worlds, challenging our perception and leaving a deep impression on our souls. In this article, we explore the Mystery And Melancholy of a Street by Giorgio De Chirico, an artist who defied reality and became a forerunner of the surrealist movement.

Join us to discover the meaning behind these masterpieces that capture the essence of metaphysical art!

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Giorgio de Chirico, born in 1888, was an Italian-Greek artist, a master of surrealism before the surrealist movement was officially established, he left an indelible mark on the art world with his mysterious and evocative paintings.

Giorgio de Chirico

Understanding The Meaning of The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Description of the Painting, Inspiration and his metaphysical art:

Metaphysical painting, as exemplified by this work by De Chirico, is characterised by its disconcerting and often disturbing settings. These spaces are depicted as desolate, with long shadows and lighting that creates a dreamlike and sometimes sinister atmosphere. Evoking a sense of disorientation between the past and the present, as well as between the individual and the space he occupies.

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street


Artist: Giorgio de Chirico
Date: 1914; Paris, France
Media: oil, canvas
Genre: Cityscape
Style: Metaphysical art
Location: Private Collection
Dimensions: 85 x 69 cm

Time and Space

The empty street is captured in an evening, it is not yet dusk, but there is a clear indication that the day will soon be over. The ghostly light and dark shadows contribute to an atmosphere that resembles a dream. This scene can be interpreted as a depiction of limbo or purgatory, where souls await the advent of Christ and the Day of Judgement.

Architecture and a Freight Wagon

A notable element in de Chirico’s work is the presence of imposing arches, which some have associated with the dominant and suffocating maternal figure in his life. In addition, the presence of a freight wagon may be an homage to his childhood, as his father was a railway engineer.

The architecture of the painting is partly based on Versailles/France, but many historians believe that the artist was actually inspired by Italian piazzas. De Chirico once mentioned that each arch of the white building was like an eye, each with its own soul.

Interaction of the girl as the protagonist

We see a little girl running with a hoop in the direction of a deserted square and to her right a mysteriously illuminated freight car. On her horizon, a dark shadow of what appears to be a military statue is cast on the ground and in the distance a waving flag completes the picture.

And what does it all mean? «Personal interpretation»

The Key Elements

The girl with the hoop: Represents innocence and youth, trapped in a world of mystery and melancholy.

The shadow of the statue: Can symbolise the presence of the past and the influence of history in our lives.

The arched doorways: A reminder of Renaissance architecture and the connection to history.

Waving flag: Can be interpreted as a symbol of change and movement in the midst of stillness.

The Surrealist Perspective in The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street:

De Chirico uses a unique perspective in this painting. He intentionally creates two contradictory vanishing points, breaking the illusion of reality. This plunges us into a world where space and time become blurred, where the girl will never reach the statue and the elements never converge.

Two vanishing points Mystery And Melancholy of a Street

Blender Animation The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Literary and Philosophical Foundations in Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Nietzsche's Idea of Eternal Recurrence

Influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche

Behind this work, we find de Chirico’s interest in the notion of the eternal return, a philosophical concept that suggests that everything repeats itself indefinitely. This idea relates to his Reading of Friedrich Nietzsche and his exploration of the creation and recreation of myths throughout history.

An artistic movement is born

It was the poet Guillaume Apollinaire who christened de Chirico’s work «Metaphysical», giving rise to the Metaphysical Art movement. De Chirico and Carlo Carrà led this movement, which challenged norms and immersed itself in the exploration of the unknown.

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Characteristics of Melancholy and Mystery of the Street that influenced surrealist artists.

  1. This seminal piece marked a significant influence on the surrealist artists that followed, due to its distinctive elements and techniques. The painting is characterized by a mysterious and unsettling atmosphere, achieved through empty spaces, solitary figures and a specific color palette that evokes isolation and solitude.
  2. The use of unusual perspective in the work adds a sense of vertigo and disorientation, while the rich symbolism invites multiple interpretations, from the representation of lifelessness to nostalgia for the past.
  3. These elements not only create a dreamlike, surreal effect, but also served as inspiration for artists such as Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst, who adopted the dreamlike atmosphere, the combination of disparate elements and symbolism to develop the surrealist movement.
  4. The representation of architectures as empty scenarios, the lack of a clear narrative and a sense of timelessness contribute to the enigmatic and suggestive quality of the work, keeping it as an object of fascination. Taken together, these elements not only defined the contribution of «The Melancholy and the Mystery of the Street» to Surrealism, but also underscore de Chirico’s importance as a precursor of this artistic movement.

The Legacy in Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

It is more than just a painting, It is a portal into a surreal world full of meaning and mystery. Giorgio de Chirico takes us on a journey through time and space, challenging our understanding of reality.

In his legacy, we find the beauty of surrealism and the depth of metaphysical art. This work reminds us that art has the power to explore the unknown and awaken our imagination, and that the mystery and melancholy of a street can reveal a world of value and meaning.


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