- Giovanna Garzoni (Italian, 1600–1670)
- Tempera on vellum
- Late 1640s
- The J. Paul Getty Museum (Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program)
Giovanna Garzoni (1600–1670) was one of the first women artists to work in the still life genre. Today, she is best known for her delicate watercolor paintings of plants, vegetables, and animals. But she also painted religious, mythological, and allegorical subjects, as well as portraits. Much of her work is on paper, but she also created works with other materials, including cloth and stone.
Often accompanied by her brother, she traveled and worked all over present-day Italy—including Venice, Naples Turin, Florence, and Rome—and in England and Paris. In the 1640s, she traveled back and forth from Rome to Florence, where her primary clients were in the Medici family. In the early 1650s, she settled in Rome, though she continued to produce art for the Medicis. The biographer Lione Pascoli, in his Vite (1730–1736), stated that she could command for her art “any price that she asked.”
Learn more about Garzoni’s painting Still Life with Bowl of Citrons: The J. Paul Getty Museum.
Upcoming/recent exhibitions featuring Giovanna Garzoni:
Works by the artist will be on view in 2023–24 in Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400–1800 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This show moves in 2024 to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts are collaborating to present By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800. The show capitalizes on the strong presence of Italian Renaissance and Baroque women artists in American and European collections. The organizers’ intent is to introduce to the public a “diverse and dynamic” group of female Old Masters, including not only Gentileschi but also court artist Sofonisba Anguissola, printer and painter Elisabetta Sirani, and other talented, but now virtually unknown, women artists. The show ran in Hartford from September 30, 2021 to January 9, 2022. It opens in Detroit on February 6, 2022. Read the Art Herstory review of the Hartford iteration of the exhibition here.
At Milan’s Palazzo Reale in Spring 2021, the exhibition Le Signore dell’Arte. Storie di donne tra ’500 e ’600 celebrated the art and the extraordinary lives of 34 different women artists, including Giovanna Garzoni, as well as Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabetta Sirani, Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Ginevra Cantofoli, Fede Galizia, and others. It showcased some 150 paintings from no fewer than 67 different lenders, including many Italian museums; the Musée des Beaux Arts in Marseille; and Muzeum Narodowe in Poznan, Poland.
Each year, the Uffizi makes a point of displaying the work of history’s women artists in a special exhibition. In 2020, they honored Garzoni with the show “‘The Greatness of the Universe’ in the Art of Giovanna Garzoni.” The exhibition was curated by Sheila Barker. Originally scheduled to open in March 2020, it was delayed due to Covid-10; but it did run—to much acclaim—from late May to late June 2020. Exhibition
Books about Giovanna Garzoni
“The Immensity of the Universe” in the Art of Giovanna Garzoni, edited by Sheila Barker
Giovanna Garzoni: Still Lifes, by Elena Fumagalli and Silvia Meloni Trkulja (Authors) and Ian Monk (Translator)
The Art Herstory blog:
Giovanna Garzoni’s Portrait of Zaga Christ (Ṣägga Krǝstos), by Alexandra Letvin
Two of a Kind: Giovanna Garzoni & Artemisia Gentileschi, by Mary D. Garrard
The Protofeminist Insects of Giovanna Garzoni and Maria Sibylla Merian, by Emma Steinkraus
The J. Paul Getty Museum: Explore >
Hyperallergic: Explore >
Apollo Magazine: Explore >