This is the first of a recently discovered nucleus of two paintings from the collection of the painter Pompeo Mariani (1857-1927) to whom Segantini gave, among others, the painting Il Prode of 1880 (St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum), and they were donated by the Arco painter to Mariani around 1885. The reciprocal exchange of small works was a frequent practice between the artists, and the one between the two painters is documented by a page in Mariani’s autograph inventory in which we find the exchange of two works by Segantini for a large sketch-Paesaggio di notte (Night Landscape) and a small sketch-Saluto al sol morente (Greetings the sunset), a work with which Mariani won the Prince Umberto Award in 1884, donated by the Monza painter.
As Giulio Bertoni recounts in his memoirs, from the late 1870s, Segantini often went to Brianza as a guest of Giulio’s brother Giacomo. There, Giulio reports, “we would walk all day, one day from Canzo to Barzanò, another from Lecco to Como, then as far as Lugano by railway, a trip on the lake and ascent to S. Salvatore” and from this frequentation “began his enthusiasm for the enchanting panorama of Brianza, which he saw for the first time and throughout the journey he never ceased to admire the beauty of the places that unfolded at every step” (Quinsac 1985).
The two small paintings, extremely synthetic in their pictorial rendering, testify to the young artist’s attention to the restitution of luministic and chromatic effects annotated on life and hastily summarised according to a technique, which relies on the constructive value of colour, and which is perfectly in line with naturalist painting in Lombardy in the 1970s. In Paesaggio montano (Mountainous Landscape), the rendering of the rocky mountain is entirely entrusted to a synthetic pictorial ductus that proceeds with quick, full-bodied brushstrokes that synthesise the relationships of light and shadow in the juxtaposition of colours. On the other hand, the brushstrokes in “Caglio, dintorni di Erba” (Caglio, near Erba), are more melted and shaded, where attention is more oriented towards the rendering of soft chiaroscuro effects, more in tune with the atmosphere of the lake, with some sudden chromatic rises, as can be seen in the yellow highlights on the votive edicule or in the bright red of the small flame that stands out against the shadow of the small window.
The pictorial characteristics of the two cartoons suggest a fairly early date, around the late 1970s.