"There's silence between one page and another.
The long streets of the land up to the woods
shadows escape the day
and nights show through
discrete and precious
like fruit on branches
in this luminous and geographic frenzy
I am still unsure
whether to be the landscape I am crossing
or the journey I am making there."
"There's a silence between one page and another" by Valerio Magrelli (1957-), translated from the Italian by Jonathan Galassi, The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry, edited by Geoffrey Brock, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2012.
Although Silvestro Lega's The Visit may be unfamiliar, there is something familiar look about this scene. What we see is the terrace of a country house where two young sisters (we assume the relationship based on their identical attire, a custom of 19th century Italian dress ) are welcomed by the mistress of the house, an ordinary scene from small town life. To the right, the mother lingers slightly behind, her presence may be taken as an avatar of regeneration and continuity. This is the sign, if you will, of the symbolic connection to Lega's model: Fra Angelico's Annunciation, painted some four centuries before in nearby Florence. Lega had often walked the corridors of the Convent of San Marco as a student at the Accademia: Angelico was Lega's intimate,if you will.
His use of blocks of color marks Lega as one of the Macchiaioli and a subtle one, but his compositions are rooted in the simplicity and balance of the Florentine Renaissance painters. There is no doubt that the women in The Visit walk paths laid out by the artist, there is a formality that, in Angelico's work, expressed the sacred but for Lega the poetry of affection and gesture is less definite, more allusive. The transparency of his colors and their rendering of atmosphere earned the artists a nickname as the poet of the movement. His contemporary Diego Martelli wrote of Lega: "he was not one of those who, artistically speaking, can fling themselves into novel developments...."