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The painter of the malon

Meet Ángel Della Valle, author of La vuelta del malón. A portrait artist of President Roca, he is one of the most important painters in the country.

Art and Literature
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If there is an important painter in our country, it is  Angel Della Valle . Belonging to the Generation of 80, he is one of the main representatives, together with  Eduardo Sívori , of Argentine pictorial realism (And  La vuelta del malón , which we talk a little further down is its main exponent).

He started painting very young and at the age of 20 he had already traveled to  Italy  to perfect his technique (at that time in Argentina there were no art academies, only some particular master). In 1883, back in Buenos Aires, he set up the workshop in his parents' house. He was a great portrait artist, perhaps that of then President   Julio Argentino Roca   is one of the most important.

But the area in which it stood out (and the one that would make it happen in history) was  the representation of the gaucho and the Creole and Native  (never better used the “paint your village and you will be painting the world).

The Indian in elite painting:  The turn of the malon 

It was in 1892 that his life changed: he first exhibited  La Vuelta del Malón.  Initially the painting was exhibited in a hardware store in the city of Buenos Aires. It is said that some of the neighbors who passed through the stained glass were returning home in  fear , not only because of the size of the painting (it is really imposing) but because of the realism with which it is made (also, of course, that the scene is frightening). Given the repercussions, it quickly went on to display at the Nocetti and Repetto bazaar (there were no art galleries in the city), and then went through the Argentine pavilion of the Chicago International Exhibition.  Today we can see it at the  National Museum of Fine Arts.  

María Gainza, a renowned Argentine art critic, wrote about  La vuelta del malón : “In it the Indians are the demon who screams through the pampas in a rainy sunrise. They looted a church and carry with them crosses, chalices, briefcases and even heads!; the stormy sky, which barely leaves a little light out, is a sign of the dark character of the malon. The civilized world, on the other hand, is represented by the captive, a defenseless woman with marble-white skin who, from fright, has fainted on her muscular captor.”. It is important to remember that the work was painted as part of the “celebration” of the four hundred years of Columbus's arrival in America and Della Valle took advantage to lay his position: the idea of civilization and barbarism as staunch enemies.  As you can see, the crack is not new. 

Publication Date: 13/12/2019

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