The Two Mothers by Giovanni Segantini (1891)


Modern Art Gallery, Via Palestro 16


A warm, soft light in an intimate and secluded atmosphere illuminates the two maternities in the painting by the Italian master of Divisionism, Giovanni Segantini.

With full-bodied brushstrokes in which brown and ocher colors prevail with bright patches of white, Segantini leads us to the heart of the symbol of motherhood: a small stable illuminated by the light of the lantern houses the universal experience of life.

Universal, because it is not only the human story that is at the center of the representation, but nature as a whole; thus, while the mother holds the child in her arms, the cow watches over the calf, creating a special correspondence between the two couples. Looking at the pose of the bodies, in fact, we notice that the hind legs of the cow are recalled by the legs of the chair on which the woman is sitting, and the gazes of the two mothers are turned in opposite directions to those of the children, as often happens in the moment of rest.

The naturalistic representation of the scene, with attention to the rural life that Segantini cultivated during his stay in Brianza from 1882 to 1886, is mixed with symbolic elements, according to a typical principle of symbolist art whereby the reality perceived through the senses evokes something else and leads behind the appearance of things.

Thus, Segantini wrote: “modern art must give new sensations (…). The color must be intense but pure for the light to be deep and alive. It takes continuous evocation, continuous mirage. The real so-called must be overcome”.

Segantini mixes the pigments directly on the canvas to give vigor and light to the colors, as the French pointillists did, but here the longer and jagged brushstrokes, which sometimes even overlap (divisionism), give a special three-dimensionality and a movement effect similar to the vibration.

The light that spreads throughout the painting, as well as the warm atmosphere that transpires are truly extraordinary, and Segantini once again manages to represent, with very vivid language, the roots of human sentiment.

A few minutes walk from the Best Western Hotel City, at the Modern Art Gallery (GAM) you will find, in addition to The two mothers, also The Angel of Life, The Goddess of Love, Love at the Source of life, Landscape on the Maloja by Segantini. And also the Madonna dei Gigli by Previati, paintings by Pellizza da Volpedo and many others, as well as a selection of sculptures including a plaster of Hebe, cup of the gods, by Canova.

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