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

Cherries in a silver compote with crabapples on a stone ledge and a fritillary butterfly

Fede Galizia (Milan 1578-1630)
Cherries in a silver compote with crabapples on a stone ledge and a fritillary butterfly
oil on panel
11 1/8 x 16 5/8 in. (28.2 x 42.2 cm.)
Principessa della Gherardesca, Florence, acquired from the artist.
F. Caroli, Fede Galizia, Turin, 1991, no. 3, under 'Addenda alla seconda edizione, Aprile 1991'.
Italian still life painting, from The Silvano Lodi collection, exhibition catalogue, Jerusalem, 1994.
Italian still life painting, from the Silvano Lodi collection, exhibition catalogue, Tokyo, 2001, p. 50, no. 13.
S. Dathe, Natura morta italiana: Italienisches stilleben aus vier Jahrhunderten, sammlung Silvano Lodi, exhibition catalogue, Ravensburg, 2003, pp. 21 and 34, illustrated.
M. Marubbi, Painters of reality, the legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2004, p. 187.
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Italian still life painting from three centuries, 2 February-13 March 1983, 9 April-30 June 1983; and 30 July-11 September 1983.
Tokyo, Seiji Togo Memorial Museum of Art, Italian still life painting, from The Silvano Lodi collection, 28 April-26 May 2001, no. 13; and on tour in Japan.
Ravensburg, Schloss Achberg, Natura morta italiana: Italienische stilleben aus vier Jahrhunderten, sammlung Silvano Lodi, 11 April-12 October, 2003.

Lot Essay

Fede Galizia, the author of the first dated still life by an Italian artist (the Bowl with plums, pears and a rose, ex. Anholt collection, Amsterdam) painted in 1602, was a crucial figure in the development of still life painting in Italy. She trained with her father and, according to the intellectual and biographer Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, exhibited a precocious talent at the age of twelve. During her career in Milan she was best known, and widely praised, as a painter of portraits - she painted a magnificent portrait of the artist Federico Zuccari - and altarpieces, most notably a Noli me Tangere (1616) for S.M. Maddalena. Her style was in keeping with the simplicity and austerity favored in Milan at the time of Cardinal Federico Borromeo, a naturalism that had its roots in the cinquecento achievements of Moretto da Brescia and Moroni. Her relationship to Caravaggio is unclear - she was seven years his junior - but she was undoubtedly influenced by his early work, most notably the Basket of fruit painted for Cardinal Borromeo in the late 1590s. Although contemporary sources make no mention of Galizia's remarkable talent for still life painting, it is for this genre that she is now remembered. Even so, her still lifes are extraordinarily rare, and this is one of only twenty-six that have survived the centuries. Her method, which combined an almost scientific naturalism with a dramatic monumentality, was an inspiration to subsequent still life painters, most notably Panfilo Nuvolone, also from Milan. Like Nuvolone she worked on a small scale and her paintings are executed with exquisite finesse on panel.

This Cherries in a silver compote employs a number of elements that appear in other of Galizia's paintings. The silver compote is the same vessel that appears in her first still life in 1602, although with time she has become far more assured; the composition has a complexity and the rendering of the cherries, the apples and the butterfly a polish that is absent in her earliest work. This is one of only two still lifes with cherries by Fede that have come down to us, the other being a panel in the Royal Collection, Hampton Court, which was acquired by King Charles I. That painting, which sees the cherries arranged in a porcelain bowl identical to that in the still life sold at Christie's, London (6 July 2006, lot 55, for £680,000=$1,288,530), was only recently identified as a work by Galizia, having for many years been thought to be a work by Daniel Nys, an agent who was largely responsible for King Charles' acquisition of the Mantua paintings. In both ours and the Hampton Court paintings, the cherries are heaped high with one from a conjoined pair hanging dramatically over the lip of the compote. To the right are three crabapples while a smaller bunch of cherries appears on the table to the left. In this, but not in the Hampton Court painting, a fritillary butterfly hovers over the fruit on the left. The superlative condition of this panel highlights the crystalline clarity with which, against a dark background, every element of this still life is rendered. Its sharpness underscores the poignant sense of detachment that characterizes Fede's best works. The sophistication of this composition suggests a dating of circa 1610, contemporary with the Glass compote with peaches, apples and a grasshopper sold in these rooms, 6 April 2006, lot 55 (for $1,640,000).

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