Presented at the inaugural Milan Triennale in 1891, alongside "Maternità" (Maternity) by Gaetano Previati, "Le due madri" is one of Segantini's most celebrated and talked-about works, and affirmed the revolutionary new technique known as Divisionism. This genre scene, traditional only in appearance, represents the first step in Segantini's progression towards a so-called "painting of ideas." The woman with the baby, and the cow with her calf, are elevated into universal symbols of motherhood.
The studied effect of artificial light, shown in the rendering of the lantern-lit stable, gives this humble scene an intensity that could only be achieved via the Divisionist technique. Inspired by a profound and sincere sense of observation, this scene is captured through filamented brushstrokes of divided colors, with pure colors applied directly to the canvas. The final effect is a work whose meaning goes beyond reality, and aspires to represent a universal image of the origins of life.