The Fourth Estate of Pellizza da Volpedo in Palazzo Vecchio

“The Fourth Estate” by Pellizza da Volpedo

“Digital generation” by Beatrice Brandini

On the occasion of May 1st, International Workers’ Day, the Municipality of Florence – Museo Novecento, thanks to the collaboration with the Municipality of Milan, presents in the heart of Palazzo Vecchio, inside the Salone del Cinquecento, the large and suggestive canvas of Pellizza da Volpedo “The Fourth Estate”.

It is an artistic collaboration, the one between Milan and Florence, already successfully tested in the exhibition dedicated to the Three Pietà by Michelangelo, currently underway at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. With this monumental work, this partnership is strengthened, a unique opportunity to admire the masterpiece of Pellizza da Volpedo in Florence.

The preparation of the work The Fourth Estate, photo ANSA

The Florentine project, curated by Danka Giacon and Sergio Risaliti, is not accidental, in fact the artist stayed here attending the Academy of Fine Arts, under the teaching of Giovanni Fattori, coming into contact with Renaissance masterpieces.

Set up in the Salone del Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio

The Fourth Estate was presented to the public for the first time in 1902, at the International and Modern Decorative Exhibition in Turin. Obviously the work was not understood, the ruling class of the time, together with the public and political authorities, decoded it as a revolutionary and “anarchic” canvas.

Image of the inauguration in which we can see, among others, Sergio Risaliti, Dario Nardella, Andrea Orlando, Beppe Sala, Tommaso Sacchi.

The work was inspired by what had happened in Milan in 1898, when during the popular uprisings, General Bava Beccaris fired on the crowd causing a massacre. Volpedo was deeply socialist, but his political commitment was born from noble intentions, the one for which every citizen dreams of being represented, the civil and humanitarian commitment, someone who speaks for all those who have no voice.

For this reason the crowd advances with pride and is not afraid, the fourth estate is the working class. Men and WOMEN (still a revolutionary sign) have different gestures and expressiveness, human and natural (the figures were studied from life). This work aims to communicate a social and political urgency.

Poster of the film “Novecento” by Bernardo Bertolucci

The painting was also the protagonist of a sequence shot of one of the most beautiful films in the history of Italian cinema, Novecento by Bernardo Bertolucci (1974).

Volpedo’s work can be admired from 1 May to 30 June 2022, in the Salone del Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio.

In such a complicated and uncertain period, this work is more relevant than ever, hoping that the rights related to work, in some states still incredibly far from words such as “fairness and humanity”, can improve, becoming at least dignified.

Good life to everyone!



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