Night in Bologna

Media - 1986.6.87 - SAAM-1986.6.87_2 - 135589
Copied Paul Cadmus, Night in Bologna, 1958, egg tempera on fiberboard, 50 3435 in. (129.089.0 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.87

Artwork Details

Night in Bologna
50 3435 in. (129.089.0 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation
Mediums Description
egg tempera on fiberboard
  • Architecture Exterior — detail — column
  • Occupation — military — soldier
  • Dress — uniform — military uniform
  • Cityscape — Italy — Bologna
  • Figure group
Object Number

Artwork Description

Night in Bologna is a provocative scene. A traveler with a suitcase seated at a café table observes a soldier in uniform, who looks toward a strolling woman. Each is bathed in a different color of light: the soldier in red for lust, the woman in yellow for greed, and the tourist in green for envy.

Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014

Gallery Label

Night in Bologna is a dark comedy of sexual tensions played out on a stage of shadowy arcades. In the foreground, a soldier on leave throws off a visible heat that suffuses the air around him with a red glow. He casts an appraising look at a worldly woman nearby, who gauges the interest of a man seated at a café table. The gawky tourist is unaware of her attentions, and looks longingly at the man in uniform. Cadmus left the outcome unclear because he was more interested in the tangle of human instincts than in tidy resolutions. He once said that he would always rather paint "a novel" than "a short story."

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Media - 1986.6.100 - SAAM-1986.6.100_2 - 135134
Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection
October 20, 2018November 28, 2018
This exhibition presents some of the most treasured paintings and sculpture from SAAM’s permanent collection, including artworks by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, George Tooker, among others.
Media - 1967.129 - SAAM-1967.129_1 - 65164
Artist to Artist
October 1, 2021September 3, 2023
Artist to Artist features paired artworks, each representing two figures whose trajectories intersected at a creatively crucial moment, whether as student and teacher, professional allies, or friends.