It was in the second half the eighteen hundreds - 1888 - when Achille Bertelli, after returning from a trip to America that he paid for by working on board the ship that transported him, began his entrepreneurial activity. A pharmacy graduate, he experimented and produced with great success a new revolutionary medicinal elastoplast which relieved back pain for millions of patients all over the world for decades. It was a rapid step to cosmetic products, with the production of perfumed soaps and Venus cream, a name that was subsequently attributed by Bertelli to a whole range of products; but it was his brother Vittorio who gave impulse to the cosmetic line, immediately after the first world war, beginning the production of perfumes, powders and creams for the modern woman, and opening perfumery shops in most major italian cities. Great care was assigned to the products, always tested in the modern way, as well as to the packaging, to the realization of examples in glass that contained the precious essences, and to all promotional and advertising materials.
While in the 1920 Julien Viard realised the bottle for Bertelli for Profumo di Viole and in 1926 René Lalique created the stupendous container for Eva, famous artists such as Boccasile and Dudovich designed manifests for this Fragrant House which became symbolic of that era. Not less precious, and even more sought by collectors, are the perfumed Bertelli calendars, that once were distributed free by hairdressers and beauty institutes, often realized with great taste and refinement.
Among Bertelli’s more successful fragrances are to be remembered La Rosa, Asso di Cuori, Ebbrezza Marina and Come tu mi vuoi, which besides winning a prize at the 1937 Paris exhibition – something extremely rare for an italian fragrance - it had as testimonial the actress Greta Garbo. Despite the destruction of the establishment during the second world war, the activity Profumiera Bertelli came back with renewed vigour in the post-war period under the direction of Umberto, son of Vittorio, up until to the beginning of the 1960s, when the enterprise was sold to Lepetit.
In order to fully understand the pathways of the italian perfumery it is essential to analyse the perfumed "calendarietti", a typically italian product, which boasted its originality throughout Europe. These annuals, for which artists such as Fortunate Depero, Nanni, Dudovich, Herbert Carboni, Romoli, Grondona, were commissioned, were freely distributed from barbers and from beauty salons during the year-end period (they also became a pretext to attractively invite a "tip") and they belong to the patrimony of the Italian Perfumery. Perfumed with the essence that they wanted "to publicise" in that particular moment, the perfumed calendars document the styles that have crossed the century: from the Liberty to Art Déco until the nineteen hundreds, often with graphics that make them small masterpieces of taste and elegance.