Sottocornola Giovanni, Frutera – Fruit Seller
works associated
connected artists

1,884 - 1,886; oil on canvas
cm. 78,5 x 48,5
Signed top left: "GSottocornola" with intertwined initials. On the back of the canvas, top centre, in ink: “A. Zorzi 1884 [or 1886]”
Inventory: AH02017AFC
Provenance: Argentina, private collection; Segrate, Giovanna Gallo Collection (in 1986); Rome, Istituto Bancario Italiano (IBI) Collection (until 1991)
Exibition: 1889, Montevideo, (catalogo non reperito); 2007, Milano, n. 8; 2008, Rancate , n. 36

This painting came with I Am a Painter Too from a private collection in Argentina and has recently entered the  IBI Collection.

The provenance and the inscription on the back make it possible to identify it as the Frutera, the work shown in the exhibition organised by the Milanese art dealer Alessandro Zorzi in Montevideo in 1889, which included paintings by various Italian artists, among them Sottocornola.  This event was part of a broader pheneomenon that included the growth of a flourishing art market in South America during that period, boosted by the increasing demand for artworks from the local business class of Italian origin and the initiative of our dealers. Some years later Adolfo Feragutti Visconti exhibited in the same city and in Buenos Aires evidencing the great success Italian art was enjoying in those years.

Towards the mid–1880s the image of the young fruit seller surrounded by baskets full of fruit and vegetables became a favourite subject with the painter, who showed a Pumpkin Seller (whereabouts unknown) in the first exhibition of the Milan Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente in 1886. It is also found in the Little Fruit Seller (private collection) a painting from the collection of Norberto Sacchi, one of the major collectors of Sottocornola, a work that is very similar to the Fruit Seller both as regards the setting and the figure, since the artist used the same model. Admired for his canvases depicting bunches of grapes and baskets of fruit, Sottocornola displays his pictorial skills also in still life with a figure, a genre whose popularity with the general public revived during the last decades of the 19th century. In accordance with the most modern works of Lombard Naturalism the painter turns the subject into an image of great Verism and gives an acute psychological rendering of the young girl, whose fixed, tired gaze strikes the viewer as powerfully as the almost tactile effect of the peaches in the foreground. She is clutching the brush to clean the fruit in her left hand, which is resting on the basket. The theme of child labour is merely touched upon here and there is certainly no intention of denouncing it, but it is interesting to note how, starting from these subjects, Sottocornola explicitly dealt with the working-class condition during the following decade in such paintings as Bricklayer (figure from life), also in the Cariplo Collection.

From November 2011, the work has been on view at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan.

Sources:Archivio Fondazione Cariplo, Pratiche Ex IBI. Opere d'arte. Fald. 1/2, scheda carico opere d'arte IBI no. 1261


Giovanna Ginex, Giovanni Sottocornola. Dal realismo sociale al quotidiano familiare, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Circolo della Stampa, 26 ottobre – 14 dicembre 1985, Edi.Artes, Milano, 1985, nota 3, p. 60 ;
Sergio Rebora, Giovanni Sottocornola, Venditrice di frutta, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 226, p. 330, ill.;
Maria Canella – Cristina Cenedella, a cura di, La vita fragile. Dipinti, ambienti, immagini di Martinitt, Stelline, Pio albergo Trivulzio nella Milano del lungo Ottocento 1815-1915, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Galleria Gruppo Credito Valtellinese, Refettorio delle Stelline, 14 settembre – 27 ottobre 2007, Arti Grafiche Amilcare Pizzi, Cinisello Balsamo, 2007, n. 8, p. 251, ill. p. 20 (Venditrice di frutta);
Giovanni Anzani, Giovanni Sottocornola, Venditrice di frutta, in Giovanni Anzani – Elisabetta Chiodini, a cura di, La pittura del vero tra Lombardia e Canton Ticino (1865-1910), catalogo della mostra, Rancate, Pinacoteca Cantonale Giovanni Züst, 21 settembre-8 dicembre 2008, Silvana Editoriale, Milano, 2008, n. 36, p. 136, ill. p. 137;
Elena Lissoni, in Fernando Mazzocca, a cura di, Da Canova a Boccioni. Le collezioni della Fondazione Cariplo e di Intesa Sanpaolo, Skira, Milano, 2011, n. IX.140, pp. 232-233, ill.

Laura Casone
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