Bazzaro Leonardo, Herdsmen’s Huts at Macugnaga
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1,895; oil on canvas
cm. 93,5 x 132
Signed bottom left: “L. Bazzaro/ 1895”
Inventory: AH00130AFC
Provenance: Milan, Leopoldo Vollert Collection (until 1911); Voghera, Anita Vollert de’ Ghislanzoni Collection (until 1944); Milan, Istituto dei Ciechi (until 1948)
Exibition: 1893, Genova, sala X, n. 315 (?); 1895, Genova, sala II, n. 37 (?); 1948, Milano, Istituto dei Ciechi, Vendita all'asta della Collezione Vollert de' Ghislanzoni, (catalogo non pubblicato); 1994, Milano, n. 6

This painting comes from the collection of the industrialist Leopoldo Vollert, which was inherited by his daughter Anita, who named as her sole heir the Istituto dei Ciechi in Milan on condition that a usufruct for life was granted to her husband, Baron Lanzone de’ Ghislanzoni, who died in 1947, three years after his wife. In 1948, some of the paintings inherited by the Milan institute were  auctioned for charity, and the Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde purchased both this painting by Bazzaro and Serene Sunset by Carlo Cressini.

Still in its original frame, the painting depicts a view of Macugnaga, a village in the Verbano area, located at the foot of Monte Rosa. In the foreground, a peasant girl is resting on the bank of a stream where she has come to fetch water, probably after bringing the animals back from grazing. The same locality, which the painter actually frequented very little because, like Mosè Bianchi, he preferred the uplands near Gignese, is recurrent in the landscape painting of Francesco Filippini (The Macugnaga Plain, c. 1882, Milan, Milan Provincial Council Collection) and of Eugenio Gignous (Macugnaga, c. 1887, private collection).


Bazzaro went to the Piedmont uplands in the last decade of the 19th century, dividing his time between Gignese and Alpino and the Valle d’Aosta where he executed paintings like Alpine Scene, datable to some years later.


The size, the excellent quality and the date of 1895, which is certainly autograph but was probably added later, indicate that this canvas was conceived for a public exhibition. In fact, it has been suggested that it could actually be the painting In the Mountains displayed at the 1896 Esposizione Annuale della Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente in Milan. The canvas was shown the same year at the permanent exhibition of modern art organised by the local Fine Arts Society in Zurich, where it was bought by an unknown collector (Milan, Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, Museum Archive).


The chiaroscuro contrast between the mellow penumbra in the foreground and the sunset reflected on the Monte Rosa glaciers visible beyond the huts, is well-defined in this painting. The pictorial handling is enriched by thick brushstrokes that make the massif stand out against the clear sky. This sensitiveness to light and its effects runs through the painter’s entire oeuvre, just as it does that of other exponents of Lombard Naturalism, especially Filippo Carcano. The two painters were among the instigators of the artistic renewal that took place during these decades.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio archivistico Cariplo, Fondo Storico, pratica n. 2014 R n (document not found). Archivio Storico Istituto dei Ciechi di Milan, Benefattori, Eredità Anita Vollert


Catalogo degli oggetti d'arte. Esposizione, catalogo della mostra, Genova, Società Promotrice di Belle Arti, Stabilimento Tipografico di G. Schenone, Genova, 1893, n. 315, p. 28 (con il titolo Alpe Devero);
Catalogo degli oggetti d'arte. 42° Esposizione, catalogo della mostra, Genova, Società Promotrice di Belle Arti, Stabilimento Tipografico di G. Schenone, Genova, 1895, n. 37, p. 11 (con il titolo Alpe Devero);
Uno sguardo alla Promotrice di Belle Arti nel Palazzo Bianco, in "Il Secolo XIX", 3 marzo 1895, p. ;
Enrico Piceni – Mario Monteverdi, La pittura lombarda dell'Ottocento, Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1969, t. II, ill. n. 169, s.p. ;
Guido Cesura, Ossola dipinta, COPECO, Pero, 1979, pp. 26, 30 ill.;
Paolo Biscottini, a cura di, Pittura Lombarda del secondo Ottocento. Lo sguardo sulla realtà, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Fiera, 28 ottobre – 11 dicembre 1994, Electa, Milano, 1994, n. 6, p. 208, ill. p. 198;
Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, p. 215, ill. n. 387;
Sergio Rebora, Leonardo Bazzaro, Baite a Macugnaga, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 8, pp. 66-69, ill. pp. 66-67;
Francesco Luigi Maspes e Enzo Savoia, Alpe Devero. Baite a Macugnaga, in Francesco Luigi Maspes e Enzo Savoia, a cura di, Leonardo Bazzaro. Catalogo ragionato delle opere, Antiga Edizioni, Treviso, 2011, n. 222, pp. 235-236 (datato 1893)

Laura Casone
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