(Rome, 1876 – 1960)

Fat cows and lean cows

graphite and water-colored ink on white paper
810×1230 mm

«Nella espressione grafica ebbi sempre la tendenza di affidare alla linea quanto ordinariamente gli artisti affidano al chiaroscuro e alla pittoricità. Ma non essendo un esclusivista, ho coltivato anche manifestazioni pittoriche: prove ne sono molti grandi acquerelli a bianco e nero di effetti completi». In this word Duilio Cambellotti made a critical interpretation of his own work in 1940. As a sort of autobiographical letter he explained his poetics, ideas and intentions in the artistic field.

Fat cows and lean cows (or as it’s written on the back The dream of the cows) is the largest known version with this subject, taken from Genesis, in which the Pharaoh asks Joseph to interpret the dream of the seven fat and seven skinny cows. There is another version with the same theme, though smaller in size, in a private collection; it was published in Duilio Cambellotti. Opere su carta, the catalog of the exhibition held at the Galleria dell’Incisione in Brescia from November 2007 to January 2008. It is precisely the smaller dimensions of this sheet that make us hypothesize it could be the preparatory work for our painting. Moreover, the transitional character of that sheet is clear, indeed the fat cows are barely drawn in the outline, the lean cows are sketched and the water, from which the latter surface, is devoid of ink vortexes. Cambellotti represents the moment when the seven lean cows are coming out from the water and the fat ones do not yet understand their sad fate (they will be eaten by the skinny cows as a symbol of a period of scarce supplies).

In his artistic production we can recognize suggestions from the masters of the past such as Michelangelo, but also of his contemporaries such as Giuseppe Grandi, Medardo Rosso and Leonardo Bistolfi