The Potato Gatherers – Summer Job – Augusto Colombo, 1935

Augusto Colombo (Milan, 1902-1969)


In the large painting with an earthy palette, in the colors of ocher and brown, the harvest of potatoes is depicted. In the foreground, a group of four characters: a woman bent forward to pick a fruit from the food basket, is feeding two workers, one leaning over to take supplies, while the other is drinking, slightly pushed aside a ‘ another woman filmed as she is entering the field of view. In the background, on the other hand, there is a small group made up of three figures, two men and a woman, intent on filling a sack with tubers. In the background, a mountainous landscape with a stretch of water, around which there are bathers intent on washing themselves after the day of work.

On the back label with number “381”


Dimensions: cm 160 x 180 with frame: cm 175 x 195
(63 x 70,8 in – with frame 68,9 x 76,7 in )



Historical-critical analysis:

The painting was conceived as part of a large pictorial cycle created by Augusto Colombo between 1933 and 1935, designed to illustrate with the “glorific will of work” the different moments of rural activity, fixed in their seasonal deadlines. The ambitious project, which had a long gestation period, involved the creation of four large oil paintings on canvas. The first two to be carried out, in 1930, were the Barley Harvest and the Hop Harvest (G. Nicodemi “Augusto Colombo” Milan, 1939, Plate V, Collezione Chiesa, Varese). 

Then followed the Woodcutters, exhibited in 1934 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Milan Permanent Exhibition. It was then decided to present in the following year, 1935, again at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan, the last work, namely the Potato Gatherers. For the two works placed at the end of the great celebratory cycle, the title was emblematically changed to Work in winter and Work in summer respectively.


– Cinquantenario della Permanente. Esposizione Sociale, Milano, Catalogo della mostra Palazzo della  Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, febbraio-marzo 1934, pag. 52, n. 275;

– Esposizione Sociale, Milano, Catalogo della mostra Palazzo della Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, febbraio-marzo 1935, pag.57, n. 381;

– Giorgio Nicodemi, Augusto Colombo, Catalogo della mostra Palazzo della Società per le Belle arti ed Esposizione Permanente, Milano, 4-17 marzo 1939, pag.13.

– Giorgio Nicodemi, La Via Crucis dipinta da Augusto Colombo, Milano,1946, pag. X;

– AA.VV., Augusto Colombo, Milano, 1970, pag. 186.

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