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Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)
Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)

A glass compote with peaches, jasmine flowers, quinces and a grasshopper

Details
Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)
A glass compote with peaches, jasmine flowers, quinces and a grasshopper
oil on panel
12 x 16¾ in. (30.5 x 42.5 cm.)
Literature
F. Caroli, Fede Galizia, 2nd edition, 1991, fig. 2.
Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi collection, Jerusalem, 1994, p. 42.
S. Segal, 'An Early still life by Fede Galizia', Burlington Magazine, CXL, March 1998, pp. 164-7, fig. 6, illustrated (with incorrect dimensions, 22 x 35 cm.).
Italian still life painting, from the Silvano Lodi collection, Tokyo, 2001, p. 49, no. 12.
M. Gregori, et al., Natura morta italiana tra Cinquecento a Settecento, exhibition catalogue, Munich, 2002, p. 95.
M. Gregori, La natura morta Italiana, da Caravaggio al settecento, Milan, 2003, p. 97-8, illustrated.
M. Gregori, et al., Pittori della realtà. Le Ragioni di una Rivoluzione. Da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti, exhibition catalogue, Cremona, 2004, pp. 230-1.
A. Bayer, ed., Painters of reality: The legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, exhibition catalogue, New Haven, 2004, p. 186, no. 79.
Exhibited
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi collection, June 1994.
Sieji Togo Memorial Museum of Art, Tokyo, Italian still life painting, from The Silvano Lodi collection, 28 April - 26 May 2001, no. 12; and on tour in Japan.
Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, Natura morta italiana tra Cinquecento a Settecento, 6 December 2002 - 23 February 2003.
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, La natura morta Italiana, da Caravaggio al settecento, June 2003.
Museo Civico, Cremona, Pittori della realtà. Le Ragioni di una Rivoluzione. Da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti, 14 February - 2 May, 2004; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Painters of Reality. The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Italy, 27 May - 15 August 2004, no. 79.

Lot Essay

Fede Galizia was renowned in her own lifetime for her distinctions as a woman artist and an artistic prodigy. Her name first appeared in print in 1590, when she was twelve, and it was observed by G.P. Lomazzo that under the guidance of her painter-father Nunzio Galizia, Fede was 'devoting herself to the imitation of our most excellent artists' (Idea del tempio della pittura). Showered with commissions, Galizia had acquired an international reputation as a portraitist before the age of twenty. During her career she was honored with commissions for altarpieces in Milanese churches, working actively until 1630 when her life was ended by the plague then afflicting Italy.

The contemporary sources that heaped praise on her do not mention the still life panels that are considered today her most important works. This silence perhaps reflects the rarity of her still lifes (fewer than twenty are known) or the lesser prestige of such subjects, and yet her genius emerged most clearly in this sphere, which she helped to invent. Seven years younger than Caravaggio, Fede Galizia specialized in compact compositions on wooden supports in which careful observation and monumental forms are combined in a way that recalls her famous Lombard compatriot. During her lifetime, Galizia's supremacy in the fledgling Milanese school of still life painting was unchallenged. Indeed, the successful career of her follower, Panfilo Nuvolone, who arrived in Milan in 1610, contributed to her own fame.

This present painting is an especially beautiful still life by Fede Galizia. The pristine condition of the panel lends a crystalline sharpness not only to the superb raised dish, or tazza, but also to every leaf and peel. It is not uncommon to find compositions repeated in Galizia's oeuvre, as in early still lifes in general. As a rule, the primary element, which can otherwise be a ceramic bowl or metal dish, is centered on a shallow stage; a few smaller fruits or flowers are placed symmetrically to either side and nearer to the edge of the table. Glass compote with peaches, jasmine flowers, quinces and a grasshopper is distinguished by its significant variations on one of the artist's most sought-after themes. The catalogue raisonné by Flavio Caroli illustrates four fruit-pieces in which comparable glass compotes are flanked on one side by two apples and on the other by a small jasmine flower and a cut apple (Fede Galizia, 1989, cat. 10-3). The present painting, along with one other of a similar composition, were added to this group by Caroli (see, F. Caroli, 2nd edition, 1991). He describes this still life as having a sublime, quivering coldness that places it among the finest works by the artist. In 1998, Sam Segal published a fifth version with a date of 1607. The present painting includes two motifs that are not found in these other compositions. Two large quinces are seen at left instead of leafless apples, while, at right, a painstakingly rendered grasshopper appears instead of a flower. It is reasonable to assume that Galizia placed a grasshopper, symbolic of the passage of time, next to a cut apple in order to suggest an emblematic 'contrast of opposites' with the flawless quinces, also known as 'golden apples'. One may deduce from these unique motifs that the present panel represents the artist's first treatment of the subject, executed prior to the numerous autograph replicas that are nearly identical to each other.

We are grateful to Dr. John Spike for the above catalogue entry.

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