Music and still lifes by Bartolomeo Bettera

Bartolomeo Bettera, strumenti musicali - musical instruments

"Still Life with Musical Instruments and Books", mid-17th century, oil on canvas, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Very little is known about the life of Bergamo-born painter Bartolomeo Bettera (1639-end of the 17th century).

He was probably a student of Evaristo Baschenis (1617-1677), who was also from Bergamo and like him mostly worked on the theme of still life with musical instruments.

An essay on famous people born in Bergamo, published in the second half of the 19th century, states:

“His ease and brio in masterful execution are praised in the few ascertained essays about him that we still have. Three canvases I sold, which all had the letters ‘B † B’ on a tag sticking out from the pages of a closed book, were probably painted by Bettera.”

“They have the same style as paintings by priest Evaristo Baschenis, but I would not say that fusion, relief, details and truthfulness in those three canvases are always superior to works by Baschenis. Without a doubt: the two Bs stand either for ‘Baschenis bergamasco’ (which however was not Evaristo’s usual signature) or for the initials of Bettera; in the second case, the canvases with the tag do not allow us to say that he was better than [Baschenis], who produced such a large number of works to bring his name out of obscurity.”

“In any case, I am happy to correct here, in the small way I am allowed, the unfair oblivion surrounding Bettera” (translated from P. Locatelli, “Illustri bergamaschi”, Tip. Pagnoncelli, Bergamo 1869).

And we are happy to help further correct that oblivion, in the small way we are allowed.

February 22, 2016