The Woodcutters – Winter work – Augusto Colombo, 1933

Augusto Colombo (Milan, 1902-1969)


In the large painting with an earthy palette, in ocher and brown colors, a group of woodcutters is depicted. In the foreground a woman from behind and a man, with his arms wrapped around his crouched legs, are warming up in front of a small bonfire, while next to them another man is cutting a small branch with a billhook. Behind there is another group of lumberjacks, intent on working around a large log already felled: one is fixing the ropes for transport, while another, with a hatchet in hand, is resting after work. In the background several trees and a barren hilly landscape, while in the distance you can glimpse snow-capped mountain peaks.

Signed and dated lower right “-AUGUSTO COLOMBO 1933-“


Dimensions: 160 x 180 cm with frame: 175 x 195 cm


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.


50th anniversary of the Permanente. Social Exhibition, Milan, Catalog of the exhibition Palazzo della Società per le Belle Arti and Permanent Exhibition, February-March 1934, p. 52, n. 275;

– Social Exhibition, Milan, Catalog of the exhibition Palazzo della Società per le Belle Arti and Permanent Exhibition, February-March 1935, page 57, n. 381;

-Giorgio Nicodemi, Augusto Colombo, Catalog of the exhibition Palace of the Society for Fine Arts and Permanent Exhibition, Milan, March 4-17, 1939, page 13.

-Giorgio Nicodemi, The Via Crucis painted by Augusto Colombo, Milan, 1946, p. X;

-AA.VV., Augusto Colombo, Milan, 1970, p. 186.

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