Evaristo Baschenis’s musical silence

Baschenis strumenti musicali

"Strumenti musicali", 1660-1670

The presence of sound and silence is dizzying in the musical still lifes by Bergamo-born painter Evaristo Baschenis (1617-1677). Abandoned, forgotten, sometimes dusty string and wind instruments (lutes, mandolins, guitars, spinets) lay on the yellowed paper of noted and wrinkled musical scores. They are immersed in a surreal silence, that only a “realist” painter – explicitly inspired by Caravaggio – could represent with such intensity and expertise.

Baschenis is considered the inventor of music-themed still life, on which he focused almost exclusively. He also was an ordained priest and, of course, a musician (like most of Bergamo’s noblemen in his time).

His art composes a beautiful, quiet concert.

May 22, 2014