Bettinelli Mario, Motherhood
works associated

1,921; oil on canvas
cm. 80 x 100
Signed bottom right: “M. Bettinelli”
Inventory: AI02024AFC
Provenance: Rome, Istituto Bancario Italiano (IBI) Collection (1991) Rome, Istituto Bancario Italiano (IBI) Collection (1991) Rome, Istituto Bancario Italiano (IBI) Collection (1991)
Exibition: 1923, Milano, Galleria Pesaro, Mostra individuale di Mario Bettinelli, s.n.; 2009, Pavia, n. 33

The painting was part of the Istituto Bancario Italiano Collection, which was incorporated into that of the Cariplo Foundation in 1991. In 1923, the work was shown – as indicated by the label on the back of the frame – in the artist’s solo exhibition at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan. It depicts a mother wrapped in a soft white garment as she breast-feeds her baby boy, with a little girl next to her in an affectionate pose, who seems to be whispering in her ear. The three of them are lying in the shade of a white building, possibly a church overlooking the sea.

The iconography, the ways in which the colour is applied and the palette based on ochre tones are all typical of Symbolism. The artist trained in Brescia, specialising in female portraits and landscapes in pastel or in oil. In 1911, he moved to Milan where he came into contact with the gallerist Lino Pesaro and it was thanks to him – and also to the artist’s prolific output and versatility (he was also well-known as a caricaturist) – that he enjoyed considerable success with Milanese collectors who were receptive to the literary and the Romantic.

The subject of motherhood was treated several times by the artist, and is to be found in other works in the Collection executed in the same period. With respect to the Neo-Renaissance rigour of Mother by Giuseppe Montanari and Leonardo Dudreville’s meticulous social study Love: First Discourse, the languid Neo-Art Nouveau curves in Bettinelli’s work appear inconsistent with the poetics and modes of the Novecento Italiano. Indeed, from a stylistic standpoint they have more in common with the Symbolism of Giulio Aristide Sartorio, as found in the canvases Rite and Reawakening.

Sources:Archivio Fondazione Cariplo, Pratiche Ex IBI, Opere d’arte, Faldone 1/2, scheda carico Opere d’arte IBI no. 1140


Guido Marangoni, Mario Bettinelli , in mostra individuale di Mario Bettinelli, catalogo della mostra, giugno 1923, Milano-Galleria Pesaro, Bestetti e Tuminelli, Milano, 1923, p. 18, s. ill.;
Sara Fontana, Mario Bettinelli, Maternità, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d'arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 22, pp. 56-57, ill.;
Susanna Zatti - Lorenza Tonani , a cura di, Il bacio tra Romanticismo e Novecento, catalogo della mostra, Pavia, Scuderie del Castello Visconteo, 14 febbraio-2 giugno 2009, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, 2009, ill. n. 33, p. 97

Antonella Crippa
Credits © Copyright 2009 by Fondazione Cariplo. Tutti i diritti riservati.
Esclusivamente i contenuti della collezione online di sono disponibili secondo una licenza CC BY-SA