Francesco Zuccarelli - inv. 314
This work is linked to Landscape with Horseman (inv. 315).
Francesco Zuccarelli, a Tuscan painter, dedicated himself mostly to landscape painting from about 1730. In 1732 he arrived in Venice, where his views of the countryside in luminous tones were greatly requested by the most important collectors in Europe, to such an extent that in 1752 he moved to London for ten years. His success stems above all from pleasurable and easy bucolic, pastoral compositions, where the real view makes way for an Arcadian landscape, in line with the taste of contemporary society.
The two paintings in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum can be dated to about 1760.
In the first, an imaginary landscape, a great watermill dominates the scene. Foaming water flows under a bridge, while a man drives three laden horses forwards with a long stick. In the foreground, two peasant women and a man are chatting quietly, and other figures intent on their daily activities appear behind them.
In the second painting, again an imaginary landscape, a great tree with bowed trunk divides the scene into two, introducing two elegantly dressed horsemen on horseback with cocked hats on their heads. On the right we can see a watermill with men carrying sacks on their backs; in the background on the left there is a peasant woman and a small village with its bell tower.
Both paintings emanate an air of quiet tranquillity and great harmony. Nature is not hostile to man; it is not frightening; it becomes a sort of earthly paradise to take refuge in. The shepherdesses and herdsmen enjoy the fresh air while the animals graze; peasants in their best clothes pause to talk and young horse riders roam the country with no precise destination.