The painting arrived at the Varese Civic Museums following the donation of Amelia Bolchini De Grandi. It is an almost unpublished work, as it has escaped the attention of the careful studies of Maurizio Fagiolo and Giovanni Lista, who have devoted particular attention to the pre-Futurist period of Balla. The painting Child with flowers seems to be extremely significant in this regard, since it refers to the particular technique used by Balla in the early years of the twentieth century, enriching the panorama of the portraits made in Rome after returning from Paris. The absolute freedom of the ductus, in dots, in commas, in long but free and open filaments, dynamically marks the figure linking it to the natural environment. Our portrait stands out for a shot with the figure of the dominant girl on a garden space marked only by tall and slender trunks, and framed with a frontal vision that in its fixity eliminates any trace of sketching to focus on an almost alienating expressiveness , accentuated by a blurring of the face that fits well into Balla's complex research in the early twentieth century, also including the cutting of part of the child's feet and a tight geometrical construction of the hat.
When this magnificent painting, coming from the Massimo Vita collection, was donated to the Civic Museums in 1971, the attribution to Hayez was indicated in a dubious way. This has found
absolute confirmation on the occasion of the Milanese exhibition dedicated to the painter in 1983, in which the work was brought back to the attention of the studies. The subject is taken from the book of Genesis and represents Tamar, the woman who married the first two sons of Judah: Er and Onan. Both spouses die and Judas blamed Tamar, refusing to give her the third child as her husband. Tamar then decided to disguise herself as a prostitute and circumvent Judas who, seduced, promised her a lamb and gave her a ring, a stick and a cord. In the work the woman is depicted with the token of love left her by her lover.
The painting became part of the Varese civic collections in 1977, thanks to the bequest of the notary Giuseppe Bonazzola. In the canvas, recorded in the inventory with the purely descriptive title of Woman reading, it is in all probability to be recognized The Prayer Book, a work that appeared at the posthumous exhibition of Eleuterio Pagliano, in whose catalog it appeared as belonging to the collection of Mr. Henry Prior . Pagliano combines his artistic vocation with an enthusiastic and reckless patriotic commitment, manifested through the faithful militancy of Garibaldi. It is precisely these atmospheres that feed The Prayer Book, whose very stringy setting is reduced to the floor of a kneeler to leave the field full to the young and absorbed reader in fifteenth-century robes, whose colors recall those of the Italian flag.
The painting entered the Civic Museums, by donation in 1966 from the Gadda Gadda collection, with the wrong attribution to Francesco Hayez, due to the inscription on the painting bearing the initials FH Bottom left. In reality, the theme song was added later and has nothing to do with Hayez's signature. The characteristics of the painting are typical of Molteni's portraiture and can be compared to his production between the thirties and forties, as confirmed by the dress and the hairstyle. With the choice of the monochrome background, the painter distances himself from the usual formula of the portrait set, comparing himself, instead, with the more essential portraiture of Hayez, which enhances the physiognomy, the expression and the psychology of the subject. On the other hand, Molteni's virtuosity in rendering the material consistency of the fabrics, the details of the hairstyle and the dress remains completely amazing. Characteristics that made it much loved and requested by the beautiful Milanese world.
Vertical abstract wooden sculpture with vague anthropomorphic references. Work donated by the artist's family on the occasion of the inauguration of the municipal art gallery at the Castle of Masnago in 1995.
Gift of the author, 1996
Other works on display