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A sweeping view of the antheap of life in the city, Sveva here examines the “tiers of existence” defining human experience in such a space. Ranging from “misery to pomp… the desolation and the continuity,” the imagery in this work presents a large spectrum of suffering and pursuit, with the model of the city as a chaotic condensed expression of such human struggles and achievements.

With a denser concentration of figures and situations of higher stress depicted in the lower section of the work Sveva seems to be presenting, as well, an image of socio-economic hierarchy. The figures at the top section appear separated by not only clouds but a literal split in the paper itself — effectively alluding to the perpetual nature of human drive to, at best, overcome struggles and, at worst, succeed at the expense of others.