Colombo Augusto, The Siesta
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1,924; oil on panel
cm. 102 x 151,7
Signed bottom left: "Augusto Colombo"
Inventory: AI00028AFC
Provenance: Milan, Augusto Colombo (in 1924)

This work is one of Augusto Colombo’s earliest paintings. After finishing his academic studies he did his military service in Turin, returning to Milan in 1924, when he won the competition for an artistic residency  awarded by the Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde and named after Cesare Sarfatti, the president of the bank, who had died at the beginning of that year. In gratitude for the recognition he received, soon afterwards the young painter gave this painting to the Cassa di Risparmio, which paid him, in February 1925, a sum of money to cover his expenses.

 The painting is an example of the artist’s youthful work. He had studied with Giuseppe Palanti and Ambrogio Alciati at the Brera Academy. During the time spent in Turin he turned to social painting, a subject he subsequently developed in the light of his close study of late 19th-century art, from Lombard Naturalism to Divisionism.

 Here Colombo depicts a group of peasants resting in the courtyard of a farmhouse. In the foreground a woman is cradling her little boy asleep in her arms and two seated men are recovering their energy after working in the fields. In the background two children are playing with their mother keeping an eye on them, the viewer can just glimpse her upper body in this photographic scene. The stark realism of the image, created by the men’s exhausted expressions and by some details like the bowl on the right, is rendered in a facture influenced by naturalist models, as can also be seen in the deft play of chiaroscuro between the dazzling light of the background and the penumbra enveloping the resting farm labourers.

 The painter was to continue to treat the theme of work, so intensely interpreted in The Siesta, in the 1930s in works like The Hop Harvest (formerly Varese, Chiesa Collection), The Woodcutter and The Potato Pickers (formerly Milan, Carlo Gerlach Collection).

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Fondo Storico, Spese. Addenda. Fald. 1, pratica no. 3454, 16 February 1925


Mostra personale del pittore Augusto Colombo, introduzione di Giorgio Nicodemi, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, 4 – 17 marzo 1939, Edizione della Casa d'Arte “Ariel”, Milano, 1939, p. 11;
Augusto Colombo, Editore Ulrico Hoepli, Milano, 1970, p. 185, ill.;
Paola Zatti, Augusto Colombo, La siesta, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 75, pp. 104-105, ill. p. 105

Laura Casone
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