The artwork depicts a fight scene between a leopard and a snake; the assault is inserted in a natural environment with equatorial vegetation, while in the background a clear and serene blue sky stands out, in open contrast with the violence of the representation. Dating from the mid-1950s, the painting shows how the suffering and discomfort experienced by Ligabue, who has always been a marginalized figure, unable to integrate into the society, are poured out and manifested in an aggressive scene of visionary violence and fighting between beasts. Among the chaotic, intricate and thick vegetation, the painter inserts two huge animals. The idea of ​​the struggle for survival is emphasized by the ferocious expressiveness of the leopard and the anatomy of the beasts, underlined by a black profile: it conveys both the tension and the spasm of the deadly contest. The artist is interested in depicting ferocious animals as they are suitable to symbolize the set of primary impulses that animate living beings. Moreover, he prefers the theme of combat as a sign of power and strength; in fact, he usually depicts the moment in which the frightening aggression begins, creating a striking contrast between the cruel conflict, the luxuriant nature and the clear sky that perform the function of background. Ligabue does not make use of a preliminary drawing, but he follows a sort of ritual, starting the work from a specific element, that is a way to emotionally get in touch with the subject, with the image that was growing inside him. He identified himself with the animal he would paint. He painted without a model, absorbed in his own vision, in the exaltation of an act rather than a thought.


  • Title: Leopard attacked by a snake
  • Creator: Antonio Liguabue
  • Date Created: 1955/1957
  • Physical Dimensions: cm 69,5x98
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Fondazione Cariparma
  • Medium: olio su faesite

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