The Expulsion of Adam and Eve. Augusto Columbo. Oil painting on canvas


The large painting depicts the expulsion from Earthly Paradise. Adam and Eve are depicted in the foreground, occupying a good part of the scene with their powerful physicality. The man has his head bowed, with an expression of shame and despair, his left hand covering his groin with fig leaves, while with the other he holds the hand of his partner, who is instead depicted in an attitude of desperation, the head thrown back and one hand covering his face. They walk on sharp rocks, while behind them they leave lush meadows and green hills; against the sky stands the imperious figure of the cherub holding the “flaming sword, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3, 24). Signed and dated: “AUGUSTO COLOMBO 1936”.

Dimensions: 213 x 156 cm; with frame: 230.5 x 172 cm

Code: ARARNO0066538

Historical-stylistic analysis:

“I believe in the artist as a “necessary” or at least “useful” man in the history of his time; I do not believe in the freedom of art as a hedonistic finalism. My compositions which illustrate heroic deeds, elementary human passions, and testimonies of religious tradition, respond to this belief of mine that painting is aligned and inserted into the concert of collective passions.

My thematic insistence on “pain” is inspired precisely by the idea of “pain” which is the dominant thought in me (regardless of the sufficient serenity of my individual life) […]” “Work, love, war , are concepts so omnipresent in my soul as a painter that compared to them the grace of a flower, a face, a chromatic harmony become minor themes in form and content. It is not a banal preference of subject (which would already be a topic outside of art) but it is a question of the emotional charge that the different subjects are able to generate […]” In these two writings taken from the author’s letters lies the main reason for the choices of the themes of fatigue, pain and war, where man becomes the protagonist figure who acts as an intermediary for emotional passion.

To understand how these are then treated in the pictorial action we rely on the words that Vittorio Beonio Brocchieri uses in the monograph written on the painter “[…] Chromatic relationships, perspective equations, anatomical orthography, chiaroscuro modulations are the philological constants of the pictorial language, on which the artist’s creative variable is inserted […]” It is needless to underline how the architectural and chromatic composition of this painting is studied down to the smallest detail to obtain the desired effect.

The angel with the sword placed in the upper corner of the painting as well as the poses of the monumental figures are a clear homage to Masaccio’s fresco. In fact, it is clear to all of his biographers that Augusto Colombo was close to the first Renaissance masters in terms of taste and feeling. In Hoepli’s 1970 monograph, four preparatory sketches for this work are reported, which was instead published in Brocchieri’s text.

Comparative bibliography:

  • Vittorio Beonio Brocchieri, Augusto Colombo, Casa editrice Ceschina, Milano, 1956;
  • Raffaele De Grada, in “Arte e costume di vita”, AA.VV., Augusto Colombo, Ulrico Hoepli
    1970 Milano, pp. 4-21.
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