Giovanna Garzoni (Italian, 1600-1670), Still life with flowers in an elaborate vase
Giovanna Garzoni (Italian, 1600-1670)
Still life with flowers in an elaborate vase
Tempera on vellum
Vellum size: 9 5/8 x 12 3/8 in
Frame size: 18 1/4 x 21 in.
Giovanna Garzoni was one of the most important woman painters in Italian art. Born in Ascoli in the region of the Marches in 1600, Garzoni completed several youthful works that demonstrated a precocious talent. In 1616 she went to Rome, where she found herself immediately immersed in an ambiance dominated by the innovative ideas of the Academia dei Lincei, which had been founded by the nobleman Federico Cesi and of which Galileo was an illustrious member. In Rome Garzoni was encouraged to dedicate herself to botanical painting. Eventually, the genre of still life painting would become her forté, winning her fame at many of the most illustrious courts of Europe - Paris, Rome, Naples, and Turin. She almost always painted these works on vellum rather than paper or canvas, and became known as the “illustrious miniaturist.” In the 1640s, Garzoni came to Florence to become an official miniaturist to the venerable Medici court. (It should be noted that this term did not then refer to the size of the paintings, but to a technique of applying tempera to parchment or vellum, producing a delicate translucence like illuminated manuscripts.) She was greatly attached to the activities of the Accademia di San Luca to which she bequeathed her estate. In gratitude, the academicians erected a commemorative monument with her portrait in their church of SS. Luca e Martina.
Works by Italian women artists from the seventeenth century are exceedingly rare. Few women had the opportunity to develop an artistic skill or work outside the home in any capacity. Giovanna Garzoni was a rare example of a woman who managed to work around social codes and become a working, successful and well-rewarded artist: one of the handful whose names are still known today. The rediscovery of Giovanna Garzoni can be traced back to the great exhibition of Italian still life paintings held in Naples, Rotterdam, and Zurich in 1964. Since that date, the research of many scholars has uncovered the well-documented life of an outstanding woman artist whose works were prized at the courts of Florence, Naples, Rome, Turin, and beyond the Alps to France.
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