“Il cammino delle ore” (The path of the hours) Augusto Colombo 1929

Augusto Colombo ( Milan 1902-1969)


In the large painting an earthy palette, on the colors of ocher and brown, is used to depict the “Walk of the Hours”, which rest on a grassy mantle and stand out against a bright blue sky dotted with clouds. The “Hours” are depicted by maidens and the passage of time is rendered through a movement that goes from awakening to an upward momentum. The first figure is darker, slumped over and in the shade; the movement that characterizes the others is that of getting up with a sort of dance towards the light towards which the palms are facing; the last, the seventh is in full sun with the arms raised.

To enhance the rendering of this effect of a dawn moving from darkness to light, the sky in the lower part is a darker blue with pinkish clouds and furthermore the painting is finished with a matte varnish which contrasts with the brilliant polish of the figures and the upper part of the sky. The choice of this curved turf and the dome that defines the work aims to reinforce the sensation of being in the passage of time, in the dimension of the world that turns.
Signed and dated: “AUGUSTO COLOMBO 1929”
Formerly Carlo Gerlach collection, Milan

Dimensions: cm. 168×227

Historical-critical analysis:

“.…. The choice (of Colombo) immediately emerges for the large composition, where the human architecture gradually forms the vaster architecture of the story. Already in a youthful painting such as the procession of women of the Way of the Hours (1930) the composition imposes a drama that attacks us as in a Venetian of the late Renaissance …. Here is a first point: alongside the plastic-drawing values there is an uncommon capacity for synthesis, alien to the painting of those years ….”

Thus Raffaele De Grada, describing this work in the author’s biography, outlines its starting points. In his essay it is also highlighted how it was the painter’s custom to study the architectural composition of the figures in depth by resorting to studies and preparatory sketches. Three references to this work are published in the text. The final painting has never been published and has always been part of the Gerlach collection in Milan where various paintings by Augusto Colombo from the production period ranging from the beginning to the 1940s were grouped together.


AA.VV., Augusto Colombo, ed. Ulrico Hoepli 1970 Milano, nel saggio di Raffaele De Grada, pagg. 4-21.

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