By Livia Lupi
Painter Evaristo Baschenis was born in Bergamo on 7 December 1617. The Baschenis family were painters and Evaristo cultivated painting and drawing along with his studies to become a priest.
Evaristo became accomplished both in the painting of figures and still life, and many of his works might still be hiding in private houses in Brescia and Bergamo. Two important paintings feature in the Agliardi collection in Bergamo. The first one is a self-portrait of Baschenis playing the spinet (a kind of harpsichord) with Count Agliardi, while the second represents two young men with instruments and books. These works among many others showcase Baschenis’ ability in the representation of textiles, from curtains to floor rugs, but also emphasise his interest in the aesthetic appeal of musical instruments. This innovative kind of still life, characterised by textiles of various types and above all by musical instruments, was imitated by many artists whose names are lost but for the Bergamo artists Bartolomeo Bettera and his son Bonaventura.
Baschenis became a priest at some point between 1640 and 1643. He travelled to Rome in 1650 and was able to dedicate most of his time to painting since his family were financially comfortable.
In the 1650s he met Jacques Courtois, also known as Borgognone, who was working in Bergamo at the time. The two artists became friends and Baschenis copied several of Courtois’s works for local patrons. However, Baschenis’s most prestigious commission was a series of paintings for the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. Unfortunately most of these works are lost.
Baschenis died in Bergamo on 16 March 1677.
Reference: Luigi Angelini. “Baschenis, Evaristo.” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Enciclopedia Treccani.
See also: F.M. Tassi. Vite de’ pittori bergamaschi. Bergamo, 1793.
Andrea Bayer. Still Lifes of Evaristo Baschenis: The Music of Silence. Olivares, 2000.
Marco Abate, ed. Evaristo Baschenis e la natura morta in Europa. Bergamo: Accademia Carrara, 1996.
Self-portrait Playing the Spinet with Ottavio Agliardi Playing the Archlute, c. 1665. Oil on canvas. Casa Agliardi, Bergamo.
Kitchen, c. 1660. Oil on canvas. Private collection.
Still Life with Musical Instruments, c. 1670. Oil on canvas. Musée Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique.
Young Boy with Bread Basket, c. 1660. Oil on canvas. Private collection.
Still Life with Musical Instruments and Brocade, c. 1650
Bonaventura Bettera, Still Life with Musical Instruments, c. 1700. Private collection.