One datum we know for certain. When Baldessari, in the summer 1916, was in Lugo, and met Dafne Gambetti, the young teacher of the primary schools, he had all but already returned to figurative art. In fact, still when there had not been any hint of his previous abstract period, (the artist himself had never explicitly mentioned it) a painting precisely dated 1916, titled Donna + finestra (Woman + window), which (it was understood then) portrayed properly the Gambetti, was considered his first futurist work. But it was precisely its high pictorial and compositional quality that somehow made doubts arise when, in 1989, on the occasion of the first volume of the general catalog of the artist’s futurist works, it was stated that it was not credible Baldessari, from one day to the other, had passed from the didactic paintings ‘’in the Ciardi style’’ to this futurist masterpiece, without even the slightest previous sign of approach. It was agreed that he had been in Florence as early as the first half of 1915, and it was admitted that a young painter, in the flower of his youth, had remained still, for a year, until the middle of 1916, when, in Lugo, he met Daphne and portrayed her, over and over again.
Actually, the findings of the last thirty years have highlighted various studies on the Boccionian theme, of the Antigrazioso (Anti-graceful), image decompositions (sometimes made on the same palette) dating back to the end of 1915 but also well into 1916, so much so that many of them can already refer to Daphne, that is, they were realized previously to the famous and supposed ‘first painting’, of which they are precisely preparatory studies.
However, one fact is certain: figure is one of the leitmotifs of his production, which is sometimes composed only of essential data with the force-lines (as in Donna alla toilette, Woman at the dressing table, 1918), others with the mixed technique of gouache and collage (as in Cocomeraia, Watermelons seller, of 1917), but it can also lead to very high quality results, such as in the Salotto giapponese (Japanese Living Room) and Donna con fiori rossi (Woman with red flowers), both of 1918, or in Lucienne, 1919, a nude already in the atmosphere of pre-900 Movement, where he portrays his first wife, a dancer in cabarets, and probably the cause of his interest in theater.
Finally, of clear Sironian inspiration, an artist-friend he often dated, Due Figure (Two Figures), 1922, which in their heavy warping and in the dull chromatism, confirm his momentary approach to the Novecento movement area.