A Boat on Lake Maggiore

Angelo Morbelli1915/1915

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione Cariplo
Milan, Italy

Painted in 1915 and shown two years later at the exhibition of the Rome Società di Belle Arti, this work from late in the artist’s career shows the gulf of Lake Maggiore as seen from a boat, with a woman leaning out to enjoy the view of the Madre island and the Baveno shore. It was early in the second decade of the century that he took up landscape painting, often in views of places near Colma di Monferrato, where he stayed for long periods. Morbelli devoted at least one other work to the landscape of the Verbano area, namely Lake Maggiore at Baveno, shown at the Bottega di Poesia gallery in Milan in 1922, on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition of Divisionist painting in Italy. The interest in these places was also connected with their new popularity with the prosperous middle classes as holiday resorts. In the painting in the Cariplo Collection, the woman on a boat trip is an explicit reference to one of the most common pastimes during these holidays. The new approach to the view was the result of a series of studies carried out by Morbelli with the aid of photography, in accordance with a creative procedure that characterises his work as a whole. This is something he shared with his friend Giuseppe Pellizza, who also undertook careful investigations of light and its pictorial rendering through the technique of Divisionism. In particular, the female figure is the mirror image of the young woman in the same pose and clothing to be seen in a photograph in the painter’s archives, taken in the early years of the 20th century. The use of a viewpoint in the shade is also typical of photographic procedures and in particular of Pictorialism, which began to catch on in Italy in those very years. The sophisticated effect of backlighting is obtained through the application of separate strokes of white, pink and blue to recreate the dazzling shimmer of the sun on the waters of the lake in contrast to the penumbra of the boat. The tricolour flag fluttering in the breeze on the left is probably a patriotic touch, as the work dates from the year during World War I when Italy declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


  • Title: A Boat on Lake Maggiore
  • Creator: Angelo Morbelli
  • Creator Lifespan: 1853/1919
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Milan
  • Creator Birth Place: Alessandria
  • Date: 1915/1915
  • Signature, Inscription: Morbelli 1915
  • Physical Dimensions: w103 x h58,5 cm (Without frame)
  • Exhibition History: The painting was shown in 1917 at the exhibition of the Rome Società di Belle Arti
  • Exhibition: Gallerie d'Italia, Piazza Scala, 6, Milano
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1996
  • Type: Painting, oil on canvas
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it

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