A glass compote with peaches, jasmine flowers, quinces and a grasshopper
oil on panel
30.5 x 42.5 cm
oil on panel
30.5 x 42.5 cm
Silvano Lodi, Campione d’Italia
New York, Christie’s, Important Old Master Paintings, 6 April 2006, lot 55
New York, Sotheby’s, Master Paintings Evening Sale, 30 January 2019, lot 42
Private Collection, New York
with Nicholas Hall, New York, 2020
Acquired by a European private collection from the above
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Italian Still Life Painting from Four Centuries, the Silvano Lodi Collection, June 1994– October 1994
Tokyo, Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art, Italian Still Life Painting from the Silvano Lodi Collection, 28 April 2001–26 May 200
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Natura morta italiana tra Cinquecento e Settecento, 6 December 2002–23 February 2003
Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, La natura morta italiana, da Caravaggio al Settecento, 26 June 2003–12 October 2003
Cremona, Museo Civico, Pittori della realtà. Le Ragioni di una Rivoluzione. Da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti, 14 February 2004–2 May 2004
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Painters of Reality. The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Italy, 27 May 2004–15 August 2004
Trento, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Fede Galizia, Admirable Painter, 30 July – 24 October 2021
Flavio Caroli, Fede Galizia, Turin, 1991, 2nd edition, reproduced, fig. 2.
Rivka Weiss-Blok and Gill Pessach, eds., Italian Still Life Painting from Four Centuries, the Silvano Lodi Collection, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, exh. cat. 1994, p. 42.
Sam Segal, “An Early still life by Fede Galizia,” Burlington Magazine, March 1998, vol. 140, pp. 166–67, p. 167, reproduced, fig. 6.
Italian Still Life Painting from the Silvano Lodi Collection, Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art, Tokyo, no. 12, p. 49, reproduced.
Mina Gregori, ed., Natura morta italiana tra Cinquecento a Settecento, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, exh. cat. 2002, entry by Franco Paliaga,
pp. 95–96, reproduced.
Mina Gregori, ed., La natura morta Italiana, da Caravaggio al settecento, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, exh. cat. 2003, entry by Franco Paliaga, pp. 97–8, reproduced.
Mina Gregori, ed., Pittori della realtà. Le Ragioni di una Rivoluzione. Da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti, Museo Civico, Cremona, exh. cat. 2004, entry by Mario Marubbi, pp. 230–31.
Andrea Bayer, ed., Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, exh. cat. 2004, entry by Mario Marubbi, no. 79, p. 186, reproduced.
A leading female protagonist of the Italian Baroque, Fede Galizia was a highly skilled practitioner of the new genre of still-life painting in early seventeenth-century Lombardy. Galizia’s still lifes offer pared-down compositions—frontal and symmetrical, they typically depict a bowl, basket, or stand containing a single type of fruit and perhaps a few cut flowers, with a few others arranged at its base—in which each element is rendered with intense, virtually microscopic, realism. Only twenty or so still lifes by Galizia are known today, making works like this one rare and significant representations of this artist’s important contribution to art history.
Galizia trained in Milan with her father, the miniature painter Nunzio Galizia (1539–1621), and her precocious talent was recognized by the art critic and theorist Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo when she was but twelve years old. In the early modern period, women artists were usually excluded from undertaking public commissions like altarpieces (although Galizia herself was in fact an exception to this general rule) as well as painting grander subjects such as histories and allegories, and so Galizia concentrated her efforts on small devotional works, portraits, and still lifes. Although they constitute her principal surviving oeuvre, Galizia’s still-life paintings are not mentioned in any contemporary sources, remaining virtually unknown to scholars until the twentieth century. This new understanding of her oeuvre has contributed to a recent resurgence in her popularity and an overdue reevaluation of her art-historical importance.
At the turn of the seventeenth century, stand-alone still lifes were relative rarities in Italy. Nevertheless, Galizia would have studied seminal examples of this burgeoning genre first-hand, namely Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit of around 1599 and Jan Brueghel the Elder’s Vase of Flowers with Jewel, Coins and Shells of 1608, both of which were in the collection of Cardinal Federico Borromeo in Milan. Galizia must have been influenced by the intense realism of these works, yet the austere simplicity, hushed atmosphere, and monumental presence of each fruit and flower within the confined pictorial spaces of her own still lifes represent a unique and novel contribution to the genre.
In his 1989 monograph on the painter, Flavio Caroli listed four fruit still lifes with compositions similar to the present painting. Each one features a central glass compote holding peaches, with two quinces to one side and a cut quince and jasmine flower to the other. The present painting was added to the catalogue’s second edition in 1991, and in 1998 Sam Segal published a fifth version. The example here differs from the others in the group in that it substitutes a locust for a jasmine flower in the right foreground, as well as reversing the placement of the two quinces at the left and adding leaves to the upright quince. There are other, almost imperceptible variations in the vine leaves within the cup. In these works, which exemplify her command of monumental form on a small scale, the swollen fruits are depicted in a cold, cutting light that seems Northern in quality, doubtless the result of Galizia’s study of the Brueghel still lifes, which had so recently arrived in Milan. Her precise pictorial finesse reveals her attention to detail, as in the reflection of a window at the base of the fruit stand and the light glancing off the shiny peel of the quinces at the left. Exercises in cool, controlled perfection, these paintings offer a useful contrast with the Baroque hedonism of another early Lombard still-life painter, Panfilo Nuvolone. The pristine condition of the present work imbues it with a particularly crystalline sharpness and radiance, making it one of the finest examples of this composition, clearly a successful one for the artist—owing to the great demand for autograph versions and variants.
The inclusion of the locust, unique among the known examples of the composition, may have been inspired by the group of insects in the foreground of Brueghel’s Vase. Referenced in a passage in the Book of Exodus describing the eighth plague of Egypt, the locust was believed to symbolize devastation and death. In Christian imagery, the insect represents divine punishment, alluding to destruction and thus the transience of life and all earthly things. Thus, in the present picture, the locust is meant to be understood in opposition to the ripe fruits and blossoming flowers, its presence lending an undercurrent of vanitas—a reminder that all worldly beauty will wither and die—to the composition.❖