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

Peaches in a pierced white faience basket

Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)
Peaches in a pierced white faience basket
oil on panel
11¼ x 16 3/8 in. (30 x 41.5 cm.)
M. Natale, in the exhibition catalogue, Venezianische Kunst in der Schweitz und in Lichtenstein, Zurich, 1978, p. 128, no. 91.
G. Langemeyer, et. al., in the exhibition catalogue, Stilleben in Europa, Münster, 1979, pp. 177-8, no. 99.
J.T. Spike, in the exhbition catalogue, Italian still life painting from three centuries, Florence, 1983, pp. 30-1, no. 5.
A.E. Pérez Sánchez, in the exhibition catalogue, Pintura española de Bodegas y Floreros de 1600 a Goya, Madrid, 1983, p. 25.
L. Salerno, in the exhibition catalogue, Natura morta italiana: Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi collection, Florence, 1984, pp. 50-1, no. 15.
L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana 1560 - 1805, Rome, 1984, pp. 58 and 61, no. 15.6.
W.B. Jordan, in the exhibition catalogue, Spanish Still Life in the Golden Age 1600-1650, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1985, p. 6, fig. 7.
P. Lorenzelli, et al., Forma Vera. Contributi a una storia della natura morta italiana, Bergamo, 1985, p. 134, no. 40.
F. Caroli, Fede Galizia, Turin, 1989, p. 87, no. 25.
N. Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked, Four Essays on Still Life Painting, Cambridge, 1990, p. 165, fig. 72.
M. Levey, The Later Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Cambridge, 1991, 2nd edition, p. 85, fig. 29.
Italian still life painting, The Silvano Lodi collection, exhibition catalogue, Jerusalem, 1994.
C. Grimm, Stilleben, Die italienischen, spanischen und französischen Meister, Stuttgart, 1995, p. 91, fig. 35.
S. Koslow, Frans Snyders - The Noble Estate. Seventeenth Century Still Life and Animal Painting in the Southern Netherlands, Antwerp, 1995, pp. 33-4, fig. 26.
S. Segal, 'An Early Still Life by Fede Galizia', The Burlington Magazine, CXL, March 1998, pp. 164-71, fig. 9.
Italian still life painting, from The Silvano Lodi collection, exhibition catalogue, Tokyo, 2001, p. 48, no. 11.
S. Dathe, in the exhibition catalogue, Natura morta italiana: Italienisches stilleben aus vier Jahrhunderten, Sammlung Silvano Lodi, Ravensburg, 2003, p. 21 and 35.
Zurich, Seedamm-Kulturzentrum, Pfäffikon; and Geneva, Musée d'art et d'histoire, Venezianische Kunst in der Schweitz und in Lichtenstein, 18 June-27 August 1978; and 8 September-5 November 1978, no. 91.
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte; and Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthall, Stilleben in Europa, 25 November 1979-24 February 1980; and 15 March-15 June 1980, no. 99.
New York, National Academy of Design; Tulsa, Philbrook Art Institute; and Dayton, Dayton Art Institute, Italian still life paintings from three centuries, 2 February-13 March 1983; 9 April-30 June 1983; and 30 July-11 September 1983, no. 5.
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek; and Berlin, Gemäldegalerie Staatliche Museen-Preussicher Kulturbesitz, Italian still life painting from three centuries, The Silvano Lodi collection, 27 November 1984-22 February 1985; and 6 September-27 October 1985, no. 15.
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Italian still life painting, The Silvano Lodi collection, June 1994.
Tokyo, Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art; and on tour in Japan, Italian still life painting, from the Silvano Lodi collection, 28 April-26 May 2001, no. 25.
Ravensburg, Schloss Achberg, Natura morta italiana: Italienische stilleben aus vier Jahrhunderten, Sammlung Silvano Lodi, 11 April-12 October 2003.
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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). Favoured by the leading collectors, Galizia enjoyed an international reputation as a portraitist before the age of twenty. During her career she was honoured 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 praised her talents do not mention the still lifes that are considered today her most important works. This silence perhaps reflects their rarity (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 specialised 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.

The extraordinary Peaches in a pierced white faience basket is her most celebrated still life. Since its first publication in 1978 by Professor Mauro Natale, who placed it among the artist's 'most outstanding works', this panel painting in pristine condition has featured in numerous exhibitions. Its iconic arrangement of five spectacularly beautiful peaches was the poster image of the Italian Still-Life Paintings from Three Centuries show in New York in 1983. It also illustrates the cover of the Galizia catalogue raisonné (F. Caroli, op. cit.).

Through Galizia's influence the careful arrangement of a few choice fruits on a shallow sill against a dark background became characteristic of Lombard still lifes as a whole. The principal element of the present work is a delicate porcelain basket filled to overflowing by red-and-yellow peaches. Galizia depicted the same white openwork bowl in a Still-Life with Cherries at Hampton Court, a picture acquired for the Royal Collection by Charles I. Two pairs of plums complete the calculated symmetry.

Every element of this robust and mysteriously illuminated composition combines to make the simple peaches even larger than life -- and more glorious. That the fruits appear near enough to touch is a trompe l'oeil effect that reveals Galizia's awareness of two great masters: Arcimboldo and Caravaggio. The latter's influence, particularly, is noticeable in the contrast between the crystalline sharpness of the openwork bowl and the alluring textures of the fruit.

Both Mauro Natale and Christian Klemm, the first scholars to comment on this work, suggested the possibility of symbolic meanings in this simple image. Indeed, the luminous peaches emerge from the darkness in a way that lends an aura of mystery. In 1983 John T. Spike invoked the earlier precedent of a Still Life with Peaches on a Plate painted by Ambrogio Figino, a leading Milanese painter, around 1595. Figino's still life was accompanied by a poem that praised the painter's victory over nature since his peaches would never decay. It is reasonable to assume that Fede Galizia had elaborated this or a similar theme in the present Peaches in a white porcelain basket. The plums on either side are shown in different stages of life. The sprig of plums at left are still immature, while the plums half-hidden in the lengthening shadows at right are slightly over-ripe. Front and centre one finds the bowl of peaches suspended in time at the peak of perfection.

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

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