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At the end of the 1920s Sassu’s painting production developed along parallel thematic paths of red men, the sacred, and battles. Although the tendency is to consider that he reached full maturity in this last subject in the years after his French experience, and above all after he became familiar with the history painting of Delacroix, it can be observed that battle scenes appear quite early both in his graphic work and in his painting.

This is evidenced by a drawing of 1929 entitled Combat, shown in the 1941 exhibition organized in the Corrente movement’s Bottega degli Artisti and a water color with the same title, done in 1931.


Battle (The Death
of Patroclus)

Men fighting, horses out of control, dead and wounded abandoned on the ground are the essential elements which Sassu elaborates in turn. A comparison between the Battle of 1934, the first painted rendition of the theme, made before his trip to France, and Battle of 1935, presented at the Lombard Sindacale in 1937, can bring into focus the evolution of Sassu’s artistic expression toward the use of a deliberately constructive color and a greater balance in the distribution of the parts, even while searching for greater dynamism.

A more profound sense of history influences his choice to adopt both a horizontal format, as in Battle between Horsemen of 1936-39, and to load with metaphorical and allusionistic meaning the battles painted during the war. Sassu has taken up the motif numerous times over the span of his career: recent examples date from the 1980s and 1990s.