Giovanni Segantini “Return From The Wood”
GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna


GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna
Via Palestro 16


09 Jun 2021 - 24 Oct 2021


€ 3–5

Giovanni Segantini “Return From The Wood”

Galleria d’Arte Moderna hosts a masterpiece from the Swiss collection, an Otto Fischbacher – Giovanni Segantini Foundation’s long term loan: Ritorno dal bosco, here in exchange of the painting Ritratto della signora Casiraghi Oriani currently at the exhibition Giovanni Segantini. Maestro del ritratto at the Segantini Museum St. Moritz.

In a cold winter landscape, an old peasant drags behind her a sled, loaded with a large log and some twisted roots. Following a path already traced in the snow, she’s on her way home after the daily toil. Ahead, in the village, the first lights have just turned on, their yellow warmth contrasts with the surrounding landscape.  The mountain range acts as a backdrop, transforming into an icy mantle that threatens Savognino, the village where Segantini lived, from 1886, for some years.

Ritorno dal bosco is one of the first paintings marking Segantini’s approach to the themes of Symbolism. The mountain landscapes he studied during his voluntary isolation in the Grisons, in Switzerland, with their bright light and unspoiled nature, along with the influences of the most modern European paintings he knew through Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, led the artist toward a new pictorial language. Indeed, the picture is exemplary of Segantini’s success in the scrupulous use of Divisionist technique of applying  pure colors directly onto the canvas, rather than mixing them on a palette. This achieves an effect of brightness, visible here in the crystalline whites and silvery gray, rich in blue undertones.

The clear, silent, snowy landscape retains deep symbolic meaning too, connected with nature’s cycle of death and rebirth. The roots on the sled may refer to the life that is born from the earth, which is only temporarily barren and bare. The old woman follows a straight path, taken by others before her, which leads inexorably to one destination: human destiny is inescapable and the woman heads towards it with proud resignation, perhaps looking hopefully at the light and at the bell tower, its spire the only element standing out against the sky, linking the earthly and spiritual planes.

  • Above:

    Giovanni Segantini. Return from the wood, 1890. St. Moritz, Segantini Museum; Otto Fischbacher – Giovanni Segantini Foundation.