Life in the rice field, women's work according to Angelo Morbelli

From April 29 to July 1, the exhibition 'Life in the Rice Field. Work and Sociality in the Painting of Angelo Morbelli' displays a work by Morbelli after more than a hundred years.

It opened on April 29 and runs until July 1, 2018, at the Borgogna Museum in Vercelli, the exhibition Vita in risaia. Work and Sociality in the Painting of Angelo Morbelli, which brings to the Piedmontese city (after the preview held April 13-25 at the Paolo and Adele Giannoni Gallery of Modern Art in Novara), two masterpieces by Angelo Morbelli (Alessandria, 1854 - Milan, 1919), Risaiuole of 1897 and Per ottanta centesimi! of 1895. The protagonist, however, is the painting of the Risaiuole, which the public can return to see after more than a hundred years: it was in fact exhibited only on one occasion, in 1899, when it was purchased by the Society for Fine Arts and Permanent Exhibition of Milan and entrusted to the care of one of its associates by lot. The work then entered his private collection and never left it again.

The arrival of Le Risaiuole in Piedmont allows for a deeper understanding of the great Divisionist artist, starting with his technique and his interest in women’s work: for this reason, a comparison with a very famous painting, Per ottanta centesimi! was chosen in order to analyze the changes in framing and perspective rendering and to investigate how Morbelli’s Divisionist technique evolved over the years. The Risaiuole, the presentation reads, “have importance not only for art history, but also suggest insights into rice cultivation techniques and the history of labor in the countryside between Novara and Vercelli in the years between the 1800s and 1900s. These issues are addressed in the publication by Vercelli agronomist Giuseppe Sarasso and historian Adolfo Mignemi.”

The exhibition, curated by Aurora Scotti Tonsini, a leading scholar and expert on pointillism and already curator, in 2001, of the monograph on Angelo Morbelli at the Gallery of Modern Art in Turin (as well as author of a volume devoted to the painter’s notebook, which also wrote observations on women’s work in the rice field), is accompanied by a volume, published by Mets, that presents in-depth essays on the two paintings and the results of diagnostic investigations conducted by Thierry Radelet’s laboratory, which has previously analyzed other Divisionist paintings (e.g., canvases by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo). In addition, Life in the Rice Field takes the form of a sort of “preview” of the major exhibition Ottocento in collezione. From the Macchiaioli to Segantini, which will be held in the fall in Novara and will be curated by Sergio Rebora and Elisabetta Staudacher.

Vita in risaia is jointly organized by the METS Percorsi d’arte Association, the Paolo and Adele Giannoni Gallery of Modern Art and the Borgogna Museum in Vercelli, in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the provinces of Biella, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli and the Società Storica Novarese, with the patronage of the Piedmont Region, the Municipality of Novara, the Municipality of Vercelli, the Ente Nazionale Risi, the East Sesia Irrigation Association and the West Sesia Irrigation Association, theConfagricoltura Novara and the Confagricoltura Vercelli, the Academy of Agriculture of Turin, the Women’s Agricultural Association Women and Rice, the A.P.S. Strada Del Riso Vercellese di Qualità, the ATL of Novara, with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Vercelli, Rotary Club Novara, Rotary Club Vercelli, Riso Invernizzi and BIG Broker Insurance Group - Ciaccio Arte.

The exhibition opens during the following hours: Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays. In the morning visitation opportunities for schools, groups and individuals by appointment. Special openings on May 1 and June 2 from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets: full 10 euros, reduced 8 euros (groups, concessionaires, Accademia Albertina visitors, Gaudenzio Ferrari’s Renaissance exhibition visitors and Galleria Giannoni visitors), free for Torino Musei subscribers and non-school-age children. Info at

Pictured: Angelo Morbelli, Risaiuole (1897; oil on canvas, 40 x 60 cm; private collection)

Life in the rice field, women's work according to Angelo Morbelli
Life in the rice field, women's work according to Angelo Morbelli

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