Gola Emilio, Hills in Brianza – Brianza Landscape – The Valley – From the Courtyard
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1,915 - 1,920; oil on canvas
cm. 80 x 125,5
Signed bottom right: “E. Gola”; on the back of the canvas, charcoal sketch of the church and courtyard; on the stretcher at right printed paper label: “PROPRIETA’ ROSETTA VARENNA GUSSONI”; written in ball-point: “Banca Rosenberg”; printed paper label: “GALLERIA MILANO/VIA CROCE ROSSA, 6/MILANO FEBBRAIO 1932/2900”; on the stretcher, at left: “GALLERIA MILANO[…]/ 1/7/931 N. 939”; paper label with “35” written in pen; printed paper label: “MOSTRA RETROSPETTIVA delle [opere di]/ Emilio Gola/alla Galleria Milano/ Dicembre 1929”; stamp: “E. M. Varenna/Via A. Manzoni 14”
Inventory: AH00901AFC
Provenance: Milan, A. Gignous & D.A. Collection (in 1929); Milan, Rosetta Varenna Gussoni Collection; Milan, Galleria Geri, 1968
Exibition: 1929, Milano, Galleria Milano, Mostra retrospettiva delle opere di Emilio Gola, s.n.; 1931, Milano, Galleria Milano, n. 939; 1932, Milano, Galleria Milano, febbraio, n. 2900; 1989, Milano, Palazzo Reale, n. 47; 2010, Pavia, n. 12; 2017, Cremona, n. 33; 2018, Verbania, n. 16

The painting is reproduced in three colours under the title Hills in Brianza in the catalogue of the auction of the A. Gignous & D. A. Collection, held at the Galleria Milano in November 1929. However, from the introductory text by Giorgio Nicodemi it is not possible to establish with any certainty if the work was part of the lot that belonged to the nephew of the painter Eugenio Gignous, or to the other lot on sale identified solely by the owner’s initials “D. A.”. The labels on the stretcher of the painting attest to its presence in the commemorative retrospective devoted to the artist in December 1929, at the Galleria Milano, and to two subsequent less important exhibitions with sales – neither accompanied by a catalogue nor mentioned in the press – held at the same gallery in 1931 and in February 1932.


At this last exhibition and sale the canvas was possibly purchased, or simply noticed, by Rosetta Varenna Gussoni, since the label on the right of the stretcher shows that she once owned it. In fact, it was featured in the February 1932 exhibition at the Galleria Milano together with two other works that entered her collection – a Landscape by Piero Marussig of 1932 and View of Paris by Filippo De Pisis, which have recently reappeared on the antique market (Farsetti Arte, November 2005 and November 2008) – both of which have a label similar to the one on the stretcher of the painting in the Cariplo Collection. During this period the refined collector had built up an important group of Emilio Gola’s works that were representative of his oeuvre, from the portraits to the early views of Mondonico in the Brianza area and the seascapes and landscapes of his maturity.


This painting reappeared on the antique market in 1968 at the Galleria Geri in Milan, where it was bought by the Cassa di Risparmio delle Province Lombarde.


Scholars have recently suggested that the place depicted is the courtyard in front of the church of San Biagio di Mondonico at Olgiate Molgora, a town the artist was very fond of, spending several months a year in the family villa there. This hypothesis is supported both by the autograph inscription “From the Courtyard” on the stretcher and the charcoal sketch on the back of the canvas with a view of the church – which also appears in other paintings by the artist, including Village Under Snow (Milan, Banca Intesa Collection). In this picture Emilio Gola turns his back on the ancient church with its fine architecture, although its large shadow is projected across the foreground, and from high up directs his gaze beyond the courtyard towards the line of hills fading into the distance. In doing so, he overturns the 19th-century tradition of the perspective view to create an extraordinary landscape painting. The simplification of forms, which he had been pursuing since 1910, the broad, loose handling and the exploration of the relationship between light and shade in building up the composition with large masses, make it possible to date the work to shortly after 1915. The last stage in the artist’s production began around this time, during which he achieved a modernity and freedom of expression in his research on colour and light, as shown by Landscape and Afternoon also in the Cariplo Collection.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio archivistico Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, pratica n. 879 R/367


Giorgio Nicodemi, La collezione A. Gignous & D. A., catalogo della vendita all’asta, novembre 1929, Galleria Milano, Milano, 1929, n. 44, tricromia s.n. (tra le tavv. LVI-LVII) (Colline in Brianza);
Nicoletta Colombo, Emilio Gola. Paesaggio brianzolo o La vallata, Raffaele De Grada, a cura di, Emilio Gola, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Palazzo Reale 1989, s.e., Milano, 1989, n. 47, p. 86, ill.;
Anna Caterina Bellati, Emilio Gola. L'uomo e l'opera, Bolis, Bergamo, 1994, p. 192, ill. n. 25 p. 114;
Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, p. 264, n. 507 ill. (La vallata);
Sergio Rebora, Emilio Gola, Dal sagrato o La Vallata o Paesaggio brianzolo, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 108, p. 188, ill. (scheda ripubblicata in Maria Teresa Fiorio – Sergio Rebora, a cura di, 2010);
Fernando Noris, a cura di, Ottocento tra realtà e sogno. Il lungo secolo della pittura italiana e lombarda, catalogo della mostra, Bergamo, Spazio Viterbi, 28 novembre 2008 - 22 febbraio 2009, Provincia di Bergamo - Fondazione Cariplo, Bergamo - Milano, 2008, p. 74;
Maria Teresa Fiorio – Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Da Hayez a Sironi. La pittura moderna in Lombardia attraverso le opere della Fondazione Cariplo, catalogo della mostra, Pavia, Castello Visconteo, Sala del Rivellino, 30 aprile – 23 maggio 2010, Skira, Milano, 2010, n. 12, p. 40, ill. p. 41;
Mario Marubbi e Lucia Molino, a cura di , Lo sguardo sul mondo. Vedute, capricci, paesaggi dalla Collezione Fondazione Cariplo e dalla Pinacoteca Ala Ponzone di Cremona, catalogo della mostra, Cremona, Museo Civico Ala Ponzone, 24 marzo - 25 giugno 2017, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo , 2017, n. 33, pp. 92-93;
Elena Pontiggia e Lucia Molino, a cura di, Armonie verdi. Paesaggi dalla Scapigliatura al "Novecento", catalogo della mostra, Verbania, Museo del Paesaggio, 25 marzo - 30 settembre 2018, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, 2018, n. 16, pp. 52-53

Elena Lissoni
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