Lilloni Umberto, The Flight into Egypt
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1,960 - 1,961; oil on canvas
cm. 55 x 70
signed bottom left: “Lilloni”; autograph inscription bottom right in red: “fuga in Egitto”; paper label on the back of the canvas: “QUINTA MOSTRA BIENNALE ITALIANA DI ARTE SACRA PER LA CASA (aprile-maggio 1961)/ Lilloni Umberto/P.zza Grandi, 3 – Milano/ Fuga in Egitto”
Inventory: AI00401AFC
Provenance: 1961, Milan, Angelicum.
Exibition: 1962, Milano, s. n.

This painting was purchased in 1961 on the occasion of the ‘Mostra Biennale Italiana d’Arte Sacra per la Casa’ at the Angelicum in Milan, where Lilloni presented five works: The Little Madonna, The Little Chapel, The Curate’s House, The Flight into Egypt, and The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.
The scene, set in a wood, is similar to the landscapes of the Parmesan Apennines that the artist painted as from the second half of the 1950s during long stays in the spring and summer at the small towns of Corniglio and Bosco di Corniglio. The work displays close similarities with some paintings of 1961, such as The Road to Bosco and Bosco di Corniglio (private collection), in terms of broad, spacious composition, bright, cold light, and a rich range of greens, yellows and blues.
The painter employs a technique of quick, short brushstrokes, which become summary and calligraphic in this case, showing the influence of the Chinese and Japanese prints circulated as from the early 1930s at the Caffè Mokador, the customary meeting place of Edoardo Persico and members of the Chiarismo movement like Francesco De Rocchi and Adriano Spilimbergo. This period also saw the start of Lilloni’s interest in the primitive painting of Henri Rousseau and Maurice Utrillo, the models from which he derived the enchanted, fairytale atmosphere of his landscapes. These were, however, seldom used as settings for his depictions of religious episodes, as in the work examined here.
Together with the views of Lake Maggiore, Milan, Venice and Paris as well as the seascapes of Liguria, including Sunset on the Sea (Cariplo Collection), the wood is one of the artist’s most frequent subjects, repeatedly addressed in the 1940s in works like Wood near Monza (presented in 1940 at the ‘XXII Biennale di Venezia’), Landscape, exhibited in 1941 at the ‘III Mostra del Sindacato Nazionale Fascista di Belle Arti’ (Milan, Palazzo dell’Arte), and River near Bellagio, which Lilloni entered the same year for the 3rd Bergamo Prize.
The show of about thirty works devoted exclusively to woods at the Galleria L’Annunciata, Milan, in February 1956 was marked by the painter’s coherent use of his characteristic style to examine the same subjects and models as in the previous decades.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Archivistico Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, no. 879 R/229


Quinta mostra biennale italiana di arte sacra per la casa, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Angelicum, aprile-maggio 1961, Tip. Bertolotti, Milano, 1961, p. 17;
Sara Fontana, Umberto Lilloni, Fuga in Egitto, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d'arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 164, p. 182, ill.

Elena Lissoni
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