These grand still-lifes were painted by Giovanni Stanchi, one of the finest exponents of 17th-century Roman flower painting. Giovanni Stanchi was the capomaestro of a workshop in which his talented brothers Niccolò and Angelo also worked, executing commissions for prestigious patrons such as the Barberini, Pamphilj, Chigi, Orsini, and Medici. Maria Silvia Proni, who has done much to distinguish the individual hands of the three brothers, has rightfully attributed the present pair to Giovanni, describing them as beautiful, characteristic examples of the artist's ability to bring fruits and flowers to life and among the best works of his maturity (written communication, 23 May 2005).
Described with such illusionistic efficacy that a viewer might expect the pears in the first canvas to tumble out of the picture onto his lap, the images show a sumptuous array of botanical delights: fuzzy peaches deliberately turned in various directions to showcase the artist's ability to render the fruit from any angle; ripe melons cracked open to reveal a tantalizing view of the meat inside; and various small fruits and vegetables illuminated by the dappled light which plays over them. The floral bouquet at the right of the second picture is equally impressive, with irises, hydrangeas, tulips, and peonies all painted with seemingly effortless virtuosity. In the far right corner, a few delicate, rosy-white petals have fallen to the ground, perhaps a gentle reminder that the models in the magnificent display are transient, and can only be preserved for posterity through the painter's consummate skill.
Giovanni Stanchi's authorship has been confirmed by Maria Silvia Proni (written communication, 23 May 2005) and Mina Gregori (written communication).