Room Four - Ultimo vittorioso assalto al colle di San Martino (Final victorious attack on the hills of San Martino)


Going up to the next stop, we come across the celebration of the Ultimo vittorioso assalto al colle di San Martino, (Final victorious attack on the hills of San Martino) that commemorates a pivotal event in the whole cycle - the glorious day of 24th June 1859. The painting, financed directly by the Minister of War and made in 1891 by Raffaele Pontremoli of Piedmont, a veteran of battle paintings and witness to the events, shows the moment when the Savoy army throws itself into an extreme attack. Now late in the evening, they finally are able to conquer and hold the hills of San Martino. On the other hand, in the background, among the lines of the slender trees and the puffs of smoke from the artillery is the Contracania farmhouse. In the foreground the real attack is led by the King, who Pontremoli puts in the centre with his moustached face clearly seen. Next to him are Major Thaon de Revel and Colonel Ricotti Magnani. While dedicating a large area to the topographical description of the countryside and movement of the soldiers the Piedmont artist composes the scene with order, separating with descriptive clarity the different episodes and distributing them along the walls skilfully but with quite a severe technique and thereby conferring to the whole painting a rather excessive martial aura. This also influences the perception of the characters, sometimes appearing to be rather stiff and unnatural, defined pictorially in a dry and not so precise way.