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Permanent Collection


Bartolomeo Bettera

(Bergamo, 1639 – ?, after 1688)

Musical Instruments and a Celestial Globe
(2nd half 17th cent.), oil, canvas, 95,5 x 141,5 cm

NG S 1500, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
This magnificent, typically Bergamesque still life shows a celestial globe on a table, musical scores and various musical instruments: on the left are a violoncello, a violin, a guitar and three lutes. The composition is completed by a carpet, which covers the table, and a brocade curtain. The musical instruments are painted to look as if they had not been touched for a long time; on one of the lutes there are painted fingerprints in the dust which had collected on the surface.

This painting undoubtedly originally had a pendant with a similar composition, which would have included a terrestrial globe. Rosci surmises that this picture was very probably painted for an aristocratic client from Austria or Eastern Europe, in view of the fact that paintings by Baschenis and Bettera are today in Vienna, in Prague and in Moscow.

Restored: 1962, ZSV, Ljubljana; 1981, Štefan Hauko.
Provenance: Strahl collection, Stara Loka, until 1930; purchased by the Narodna galerija, Ljubljana, in 1930, old Inv. No. 415 (Dutch, 17C?).
Exhibitions: 1930, Ljubljana, no catalogue; 1960, Ljubljana, No. 20; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 19; 1985, Belgrade, No. 14; 1989, Ljubljana, No. 5.
Lit.: Polec 1930b, p. 142, Cat. No. 195 (anonymous, 17C, painting 45 (!) cm high and 93 (!) cm wide; always in Stara Loka); Cevc 1960, p. 21, Cat. No. 20, Fig. 11; Rosci 1971, pp. 61, 63 and 68, note 13, Fig. 143; Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, pp. 112–113, Cat. No. 19, Fig. II and 23; Rosci 1985, III, p. 166, No. 31, Fig. on p. 180, No. 2 (text M. Rosci, painting attributed to Bonaventura Bettera); Zeri and Rozman 1989, pp. 100, 112–113, Cat. and Fig. No. 5.

From Mannerism to Baroque
Although imported early-Baroque works prevailed in this period and those by itinerant artists, the 17th century paved the way for the future. The political circumstances in the region were relatively stabilized in spite of the Thirty Year War and the patronage gradually grew stronger. The arrival of the Jesuits in Ljubljana, the activity of the polymath Johann Weichard Valvasor, particularly his graphic workshop at Bogenšperk/Wagensperg Castle, and the foundation of the Academia operosorum at the end of the century were the key events of the time. 

Characteristic of sculptural production on the Slovenian territory in the 17th century were the so-called “golden altars”. As a rule, these were gilded and polychrome carved wooden retables with rich ornamentation, first with crustaceous patterns which turned into vine and grapes that covered architectural framework until the achantus foliage took over and obliterated architectural structure completely. The making of golden altars included several branches of fine arts: prints, carving, gilding, painting. Religious painting of the first half of the century still contains Mannerist elements; in the second half also secular motifs became more numerous, particularly genre scenes and aristocratic portraits. The artworks mainly echo northern early-Baroque influences. 

Noteworthy among the newcomers who settled in Carniola with their workshops were the painter and gilder Hans Georg Geiger von Geigerfeld in the mid-century, who had moved to Carniola from the region of the Central Alps, and the Fleming Almanach in the third quarter of the 17th century, known only by his nickname, who worked here only for a few years. The extraordinary productivity and skills of the latter are evidenced by his rare surviving works, mentions in Valvasor’s books, and aristocratic probate inventories.