A Still Life with Musical Instruments
Bergamo, North Italy, about 1660
Oil on canvas
A dramatically-lit group of objects demonstrates the artist’s mastery of illusion.
Note the dust on the lute, to the right, and the sumptuous folds of the curtain above. The painting is an example of a Vanitas, a still life which reminds us of the transience of worldly possessions and accomplishments. The violin with its broken string and the other instruments are silent, their last notes long since played; the books are unread.
Baschenis was a musician in a town renowned for its instrument makers. He is now regarded as the greatest Italian still-life painter of the 17th century.
Purchased 1997 (Inv. no. 97.5)