Roberto Barni

Knights of the Daily Round


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Roberto Barni born 1939
Original title
Cavaliere del quotidiano
Drypoint on paper
Image: 584 × 787 mm
Purchased 1984

Catalogue entry

Roberto Barni born 1939

P77024 Knights of the Daily Round 1982

Drypoint 584 x 787 (23 x 31) on Carini paper 673 x 876 (26 1/2 x 34 1/2); plate-mark 586 x 790 (23 1/8 x 31 1/8); printer's and publisher's stamp ‘CARINI TUSCANY'; printed and published by Carini, Florence in an edition of 19
Inscribed ‘Roberto Barni' below image b.r. and ‘5/19' below image b.l.
Purchased from Nigel Greenwood Inc. (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Lit: Maria Luisa Frisa, Paolo Balmas, Roberto Barni, exh. cat., Casa di Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno 1983, (repr. p.50); Maria Luisa Frisa, Maurizio Calvesi, Il Riso dell'Universo, exh. cat., Casa di Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno 1984, pp.18 and 20; Maria Luisa Frisa, Picturae, exh. cat., Palazzo Novellucci, Prato 1983, pp.34-5

All quotations are taken from a letter from the artist to the compiler postmarked 17 May 1988. They have been translated from Italian by the compiler.

P77024 shows two mounted knights locked in combat. The artist describes the knight's armoury as follows: ‘One has a breast-plate and the other not; their arms are a ladle and a carving-fork, one the symbol of alchemy and the other the symbol of the devil. The helmets are from pans and the shields the lids. It all symbolises the daily round and its heroism.'

He explains that the title refers to ‘the battle between two knights in the vortex of everyday life'. He further states that the work represents ‘our age' and that ‘we are the characters'. In answer to the cataloguer's questions concerning the significance of the knight, Barni replies that ‘the knight is one who proceeds towards knowledge of life'.

Regarding the circular movement within P77024 Barni writes that it ‘represents the immobility and inevitability of the encounter'. Circular movement within an image appears in several works by Barni, such as ‘A Caval della Barca' 1983, oil on canvas (repr. San Giovanni Valdarno exh. cat. 1984, p.26 in col.).

The image of a mounted knight also appears in other works by the artist, for example ‘Cavaliere di tutti i Giorni' 1982, oil on canvas, which has the same title as P77024 (repr. Prato exh. cat. 1983, p.35) and ‘Cavaliere nel Vortice', oil on canvas (repr. San Giovanni Valdarno exh. cat. 1983, p.28 in col.). Barni states that the Tate work refers ‘very loosely to Leonardo da Vinci's "Battle of Anghiari"'. This was a mural which Leonardo was commissioned to paint for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 1503, to commemorate the victory of Florentine forces over the Milanese duke, Filippo Maria Visconti in 1440. The mural was never finished and in 1557 another mural was painted over it. A drawing of the centre section by Rubens c.1615 is in the Louvre, Paris.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, p.310

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