(active 1502, d. 1531, Torino)

Woman Playing a Lute

Oil on panel, 65 x 50 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

The date appears on the paper below the lute: 1520. A replica, perhaps by the artist himself, is in the Gardner Museum, Boston.

The woman is represented in the guise of St Cecilia, a typical example of sixteenth-century "court art." In fact the artist worked for three years at Ferrara for Lucrezia Borgia. Bartolomeo's formation derives from Cima da Conegliano and the later work of Bellini, with influences from Leonardo, Costa and northern European art. His signature on a painting that was formerly in the Dona delle Rose collection in Venice shows how aware he was of his mixed development: "Bartolamio half Venetian and half Cremonese." He liked to paint half-figures of women, and chose subjects with strong personalities.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):
Francesco da Milano: Tre fantasie for lute