N06041 Five Figures c.1936
Inscribed 'SIRONI' b.r.
Tempera on canvas, 17 3/4 x 23 3/4 (44 x 59)
Presented by Mr and Mrs Eric Estorick 1952
Prov: Mr and Mrs Eric Estorick, London (purchased from the artist)
Exh: First Exhibition in England of Works by the Italian Master Mario Sironi, St George's Gallery, London, October-November 1948 (34, repr.) as 'Cinque Figure'
Lit: Agnoldomenico Pica, Mario Sironi (Milan 1955), p.53
According to a letter from the Galleria Il Milione in May 1953 (apparently written after showing a photograph to the artist), this picture was executed in 1937-8 and is a study for a mural in the Ca'Foscari in Venice. Its relationship to this mural painting, which is in fresco, is however somewhat remote. Although the mural also has five figures, they are differently arranged: one is seated and another shown in a rhetorical posture with the legs apart and carrying a shield.
The artist's widow Signora M.A. Costa-Sironi has since made the much more convincing suggestion that it is instead an early sketch for the mosaic of 'Law between Justice and Power' made in 1936 for the Court of Assizes in the Law Courts (Palazzo di Giustizia) in Milan. The figures are arranged in a very similar way and in much the same attitudes; the one on the left even has his head and shoulders silhouetted against what could be a doorway. On the other hand, the figure second from the left has been omitted and replaced by an eagle on a column and a Roman standard. The three figures on the right are respectively, from left to right, Power, Law and Truth (Justice); the man on the left, who is stripped to the waist, appears to be a carpenter or mason.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.689-90, reproduced p.689