© Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica Bologna

Name of Object:

Two Bookcase Doors Depicting Shelves with Music Books

Also known as:

Libreria (Bookcase)


Bologna, Italy

Holding Museum:

Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica


c. 1720/1730

Type of object:



Giuseppe Maria Crespi called "Lo Spagnolo" (14th March 1665, Bologna-16th July 1747, Bologna)

Period of activity:

c. 1688–1744

Museum Inventory Number:

B 37700; B 33134; B 33135

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Oil on canvas

Place of production:



Left door 165,5 x 78 cm; right door 165,5 x 75,5 cm

Workshop / Movement:

Bolognese Late Baroque




This extraordinary still life is formed by two paintings depicting the shelves of a bookcase. Music books are casually displayed vertically and horizontally. The books are depicted tidy and dense on the upper level and on the lower levels they are untidy, including books laying down. On the lower shelves there are several writing devices: two pen dryers, an inkstand, a bottle of ink, and a bunch of goose-quills. The original provenance of this painting is uncertain: the first documented information is in 1801 when it was moved from the monastery of St Francis to the Liceo Musicale. For a long time, Father Giovanni Battista Martini was thought to be the patron of this painting. He was a great scholar, specialist in contrappunto, and one of the most significant personalities of XVIII century music. Recent studies (A. Mazza in Le stanze della Musica) show that the paintings were probably intended as a present for Father Martini, who was younger than the painter. From a careful analysis the inscriptions on the book bindings appear to be posterior to the date attributed to the painting, perhaps to adapt it to the musical culture of a new owner.

View Short Description

Original Owner:

Father Giovanni Battista Martini

How Object was obtained:

The painting was part of the collection of Father Martini. It was moved along with his books after the death of his successor, Father Mattei, who saved this precious heritage from the Napoleonic confiscations. In 1801 the collections – donated to the municipality of Bologna – were moved to the suppressed monastery of St. James the Great. From 1804, this was the new Liceo Musicale of Bologna.

Selected bibliography:

Arcangeli, F., “Nature Morte di Giuseppe Maria Crespi”, Paragone: 149, 1962, pp. 31-32.
Collezionismo e storiografia musicale Nel settecento. La quadreria  e la biblioteca di Padre Martini (exhibition catalogue), Bologna, 1984.
Rave, A. B in Giuseppe Maria Crespi 1665-1747 (exhibition catalogue) (eds. A. Emiliani and A. B. Rave), Bologna, 1990, p. 170, n. 85.
Le stanze della musica (exhibition catalogue), Cinisello Balsamo (Mi), 2002 .
Guida al percorso espositivo del Museo della musica, Bologna, 2004.

Citation of this web page:

Jenny  Servino "Two Bookcase Doors Depicting Shelves with Music Books" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;BAR;it;Mus12_D;32;en&id=still_life

Prepared by: Jenny ServinoJenny Servino

SURNAME: Servino
NAME: Jenny

AFFILIATION: Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica, Bologna
(International Museum and Library of Music)

TITLE: Curator


Graduated in Political Science at the University La Sapienza of Rome. From 1996 to 2001 she worked for the Ufficio Spettacolo dell’Assessorato alla Cultura della Regione Piemonte and she was tecnical representative of the Regione Piemonte in the Association for the Joung Artists. In 2001 she became curator of the Civico Museo Bibliografico musicale of Bologna. Since 2002 she is tecnical representative of the Comune di Bologna for the international association European Mozart Ways and in 2004, when the International Museum and Library of Music was inaugurated, she was created curator.

Translation by: Antonella MampieriAntonella Mampieri

SURNAME: Mampieri
NAME: Antonella

AFFILIATION: Musei Civici d’Arte Antica, Bologna

TITLE: Art Hitorian

Graduated and specialised at the University of Bologna. She is a specialist in Bolognese late Baroque art, namely sculpture. Among other subjects she has been studying nineteenth-century funerary art in the Bologna monumental cemetery, la Certosa.

Translation copyedited by: Lisa Kelman

MWNF Working Number: IT2 34

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