Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo: biography and works

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo | Panni al sole

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Panni al sole (1894). Image source:


Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo was born in Volpedo (in the province of Alessandria) in 1868 into a family of small landowners. Since he was a child he showed a special talent for drawing, so he attended some of the best Italian academies.

From Milan (at the Breda Academy he would be a pupil of Francesco Hayez) to Rome, from Florence to Bergamo, up to Genoa, young Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo was always unsatisfied with the teachings he got, so his training would be full of changes but also of stimuli which would let him travel across northern Italy. Until he travelled to Paris on the occasion of the Exposition Universelle of 1889.

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo | Lo specchio della vita

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Lo specchio della vita (1898). Image source:

After Paris, in 1890 Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo came back to Volpedo and there, in his birthplace, started his own studio, but with the inquietude typical of those who haven’t found their own artistic language and technique yet. At this point he began becoming interested in divisionist technique, and he began measuring against the great artists of Divisionism.

In 1891 he displayed his works at the Triennale di Milano, and began drawing the attention of the public. In 1895 he joined the First Venice Biennale with his paintings La Processione (The Procession) and Il Ritratto della signora Sofia Abbiati (The Portrait of signora Sofia Abbiati). In 1901 Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo finished his masterpiece, the painting which he worked on several years, to which he dedicated a lot of study and a great deal of effort, Il Quarto Stato (The Fourth Estate).
With this painting, the following year, the artist took part in the Quadriennale di Torino, but the work didn’t get the recognition Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo hoped. This event pushed him to dedicate himself almost exclusively to landscape painting.

Actually, Il Quarto Stato (The Fourth Estate) is his most famous painting, and it would be destined to become an icon of the social struggle of the working class.
Especially after it was published in the weekly newspaper “Avanti della Domenica” in 1905.

Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo committed suicide in 1907, after the previous year his wife died in childbirth and the infant too died, shortly afterwards.

Le opere di Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo works

Il quarto stato | Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Il Quarto Stato (dettaglio). Image source:

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo | Il Sole

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Il Sole (1904). Image source:

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo | La discussione

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, La discussione. Image source:

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo | La discussione

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, La discussione. Image source:

Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, La processione.

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