Winter Schedule: 9.30-18.00 | Last entry at 16.30

Winter Schedule: 9.30-18.00 | Last entry at 16.30

Head of a Tiger

Antonio Ligabue (1899-1965)
1957, Oil on board

Antonio Ligabue, born in Switzerland in 1899, led an erratic childhood and adolescence, marked by economic, physical and mental hardship that resulted in frequent stays in psychiatric hospitals, first in Switzerland, then in Italy, where he settled in 1919. This work, dated 1957, was created during the most prolific period of his career, which was characterised by a bright, audacious palette, expressionistic use of colour, and the pronounced dark outlines of foregrounded figures. The tiger's head stands out against a simply rendered blue-green background representing a changeable sky that appears to come alive with gusts of wind. The feline seems to leap aggressively out the frame with its jaws open wide in a roar that expands as its muscles contract and its snout is distorted, while its small eyes remain unmoved, staring out at the viewer. To keep the focus on this gaze and to emphasise the tension of the moment, Ligabue painted the tiger’s whiskers in two alternating colours, black and white. They stand straight up against the background, helping to convey the ferocity that dominates the scene without diminishing the threat communicated by the staring eyes.