Milan – From tomorrow, Thursday 7 July, the painting “Il Quarto Stato” by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo will once again be visible in the permanent collections, on the first floor of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan.
The work returns permanently to GAM after a period of exposure at the Museo del Novecento, which began in 2010 on the occasion of the museum’s opening.

“We are pleased that Il Quarto Stato has returned home, with a new setting that enhances the pictorial quality and disturbing power, and with a closeness on the part of the visitor that allows for an exciting direct relationship with the masterpiece -” the commissioner told Tommaso Sacchi I thank Banco BPM for the enthusiastic support for this cultural operation, which is intended to mark a fundamental step in the history of the Modern Art Gallery.

The new location is actually designed to make the work visible under the best possible conditions, both at a distance that recreates its impressive formal setting, and from a closer position from which the visitor will be able to recognize a painting technique. of extraordinary skill and complexity. The dialogue between this space and the adjoining Ballroom also allows for a series of recordings that enhance the scenographic power of the painting, thus allowing the image to express itself in all its potential.
Shown between the space dedicated to Segantini and the one dedicated to Previati, where you can see Maternity, which comes from the Banco BPM collection, which was recently lent for the next three years, Il Quarto Stato finds a suitable location here also chronologically, which places it in continuity and in dialogue with the surrounding works, on a path that exemplifies through a series of absolute masterpieces the passage from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.
The rearrangement of the painting was carried out thanks to the contribution of Banco BPM.
“A few weeks after the event, where we inaugurated a fruitful collaboration with the municipality of Milan through the awarding of Gaetano Previati’s maternity leave for the next three years, we are proud to continue supporting the new exhibition set-up of Quarto Stato di Pellizza from Volpedo, also here at GAM – declares Umberto Ambrosoli, President of the BPM Foundation and Banca Aletti – Both key works of divisionism, Quarto Stato stands in the wake of Previati’s motherhood to overcome it and pave the way for the 20th century, to a new way of symbolically understand artistic expression and thus usher in a new era.Banco BPM has always paid special attention to promoting the cultural heritage, also through cooperation with local institutions and bodies, aware that investing in culture, sharing prestigious works representing the excellence of our national artistic history, means to encourage as well as financially.With this new collaboration with the City of Milan and G alli for Modern Art, we confirm the support for initiatives that contribute to increasing the citizens’ cultural background and to spreading beauty and culture ”.


An emblematic work from an artistic, technical and social point of view, Il Quarto Stato is the masterpiece of Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo (1868-1907).
The scene, which takes place in a square in the painter’s hometown, represents the protest of a group of workers whose march towards a bright future demands the coherent strength and dignity of the work, from which the redemption of the people must begin.
It is a monumental painting that Pellizza worked on between 1898 and 1901, years marked by strikes, protests and demands from the working class, for which the painting advocates.
The realization of the painting required the painter a long period of study lasting ten years. In fact, three earlier versions are known: Hunger’s Ambassadors (1892), Fiumana (1895) and The Workers ‘Journey (1899) alongside the definitive work, which the painter, inspired by Jean Jaurès’ writings on the French Revolution, will be entitled The Fourth Estate .
The painting was presented to the public at the Torino Quadriennale in 1902, and remained unsold, but quickly became a famous and reproduced symbol. In 1920, in the glowing climate of the red biennium, Il Quarto Stato reached Milan on the occasion of a monographic exhibition at the Pesaro Gallery. The resurrection that aroused was such that it alienated a public subscription to secure the canvas to the city, find its place in the Balla room of Castello Sforzesco, and then proceed to the Modern Art Gallery in the present seat of the royal villa.
After World War II, the painting was moved to the Palazzo Marino, the seat of the town hall, as a symbol of the conquest of democracy and the re-acquisition of rights. It is no coincidence that in 1979 he was chosen by Bernardo Bertolucci as the start of the film Novecento.
Rediscovered as a masterpiece of Italian painting at the same time as the flowering of studies on divisionism and the exhibition in London and Washington, the painting returned to the museum in 1980. After an interlude of a decade marking the isolated and spectacular beginning of the new Museo del Novecento, which opened in 2010, the monumental masterpiece returns today to the Gallery of Modern Art.


Il Quarto Stato, which from time to time is considered a manifesto, an icon or a symbol, is above all a masterpiece of Italian painting in which a famous tradition flows, enlivened by a modern style and technique.
Pellizza has conducted a large amount of research that is going to create great preparatory cartoons for both the characters in the foreground and the line behind them, divided into connected groups and studied by letting her villagers and family pose; with transparent papers, he then transferred the composition to the final canvas. The technique is modern, scientific and safe; the layout of the stage and the gestures of the characters show the author’s extensive figurative and historical-artistic culture, enriched by the study of Renaissance works, especially Raphael’s School of Athens – also studied through the cartoon kept at the Ambrosiana Library in Milan -, Leonardo’s Last Supper with the rendition of movements “, and the symbolic power of Michelangelo’s gesture.

The canvas is painted with small details, lines of pure color that achieve a dense texture of filamentous brushstrokes. This technique, theoretically supported in Milan by Vittore Grubicy and developed from the penultimate decade of the nineteenth century, in parallel with the French experience, is based on the use of “shared colors”, that is, not mixed on the palette, but scattered pure on the canvas: the synthesis took place in the eye of the beholder. Thus, the gloss and brightness of each pigment were kept intact, starting from the laws of color perception theorized by Michel-Eugène Chevreul and Ogden Rood.
But if the French pointillists were interested in the more scientific aspects of color theory, the Italian pointillists sought to achieve luministic effects capable of suggesting or accentuating even emotions and feelings.
Pellizza approached this technique around 1892 and developed it in works such as “Sul fienile” and Processione, and quickly became one of the most important representatives of divisionism along with Giovanni Segantini and Gaetano Previati.

GAM Gallery of Modern Art
Via Palestro 16, Milano


From Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 17.30.
Last recording one hour before closing time (closed Monday).


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