L’ora mesta

L’ora mesta

Giovanni Segantini
1892, oli on canvas, 45,5x83 cm
Collezione privata (deposito presso la Galleria Civica Giovanni Segantini di Arco)


Servaes 1902, n. 101; Belzoni 1935, p. 13, n. 12; Somarè 1949, p. 26; Quinsac 1982, n. 522; Segantini 1987, n. 102; Divisionismo italiano 1990, p. 76, n. 12; Giovanni Segantini 1990, n. 85; Segantini 1999, pp. 73, 74 (ill.), 221, 223, n. 4; Dalla scapigliatura 2001, pp. 130-131 n. 34.


Trento 1987; Trento 1990; Zurigo 1990-1991; Trento 1999-2000; Milano 2001-2002; Arco 2017; Arco 2021-2022

Scheda opera

The subject of the work was developed by Segantini in three canvases all dating from 1892-1893 of three different sizes (Quinsac 1982, 520, 521, 523). The larger canvas (Quinsac 1982, 520) was exhibited, together with The Chastisement of the Lustful Women, at the Grafton Galleries in London in 1893. Segantini re-proposes a theme developed during the Brianza years, during which, as he reminded Domenico Tumiati in his 1898 letter, he tried to pour onto the canvas the feelings he felt ‘especially in the evening hours, after sunset’ when the soul was predisposed to ‘sweet melancholy’. L’ora mesta, also known as The Sad Hour, is in fact set in the evening, and the old woman and the cow (the subjects that inhabit the painting) are illuminated by a twilight light that gives the work a certain lyricism and evokes the feelings Segantini spoke of in the missive. In addition to the sunset light, the painting also presents a point of illumination in the centre of the composition given by the fire burning under the cauldron in front of the woman. The woman, with her head lowered and her hands joined, seems to be caught in a moment of meditation in prayer, as she observes the blazing fire; the cow, on the other hand, raises its muzzle towards the sky, in an attitude complementary to that of the old woman. Away from the scene in the foreground, the herdsmen gather the beasts inside an enclosure.
By 1892, the use of the divided technique is clearly visible, in the distinctly Segantinianan declination of the treatment of elongated strands of pure colour, as can be seen particularly in the treatment of the meadow and the sky, where the individual tones fade into one another.