Testa di vacca

Testa di vacca

Giovanni Segantini
1890, oli on canvas, 55 x 68 cm
Arco, Collezione Comune di Arco - Galleria Civica G. Segantini


Exposition 1913, planche VIII; Archivi 1968, II, n. 296; Gozzoli 1973, n. 336; Quinsac 1982, n. 523; Segantini e Arco 2015, pp. 40-41; Giovanni Segantini 2017, p. 68 (ill.)


Saint-Moritz 1913; Arco 2015; Aosta 2017; Arco 2021-2022

Scheda opera

The work was exhibited for the last time in Saint-Moritz in 1913: from this date there followed an exhibition silence of almost a century until, in 2015, the canvas was again on show at the Galleria Civica G.. Segantini in Arco. The painting, dated 1892, has been traced in literature to the genesis of L’ora mesta (The Sad Hour): the canvas constitutes a specific study of the chromatic and luministic values, probably studied on the ground and subsequently reworked, of the cow’s head that returns, specularly, in the following painting. The background, in the upper section of the painting, differs completely from that found in L’ora mesta, where a sunset sky is depicted. The one surrounding the cow’s head, in fact, has indefinite features, as if the artist had wanted to isolate the anatomical detail of the animal by placing it in an indeterminate context in order to study it individually.
In Testa di vacca (Head of a Cow), Segantini’s use of the divided technique is evident, with a freer and more animated pictorial ductus, different from the more composed and lenticular one of the Ora mesta, characterised by broader brushstrokes that articulate with extreme ease and material vivacity in rendering the luminous and chromatic values of the broad strokes. As in other contemporary and later works, Segantini makes extensive use of gold leaf in this work, which emerges through the articulate texture of the brushstrokes.