Giovanna Garzonib. 1600 Ascoli Piceno, Italy, d. 1670 Rome
One of the first women artists to practice the art of still life painting, Giovanna Garzoni pursued her career with intensity. Garzoni's paintings were so well liked that, according to one writer, she could sell her work "for whatever price she wished." One of Garzoni's earliest works, a 1625 calligraphy book, includes capital letters illuminated with fruits, flowers, birds, and insects. These subjects were to become her specialty, and tempera on vellum was her preferred medium. Garzoni's refined interpretation of plants and animals suited the taste of her aristocratic patrons, like the Medici family, and could be found decorating their villas.
She may have begun her training in Ascoli Piceno. In a letter written in the 1620s, she identified the otherwise unknown Giacomo Rogni as her teacher. The theory that she studied miniature painting in Florence with Jacopo Ligozzi is no longer accepted, although she must have seen his exquisite nature studies when she was later at the Medici court. In 1625, and again in 1630, she was in Venice, where she painted a miniature Portrait of a Young Man (1625; The Hague, Willem V Mus.) and wrote a small textbook on calligraphy (Rome, Gal. Accad. N. S Luca). By the late 1620s she had two influential patrons in Rome: Cassiano dal Pozzo and Anna Colonna, wife of Taddeo Barberini. She went to Naples in 1630, to work for the Duque de Alcal, and was still there a year later, when in a letter to dal Pozzo she expressed her desire to 'live and die in Rome'. However, she spent the next five years in Turin at the court of Charles Emanuel II, Duke of Savoy. She left Turin in 1637, probably for Florence; documents indicate that she was there from 1643. She continued to work for members of the Medici court after finally settling in Rome in 1651. There she was a loyal supporter of the Accademia di S Luca, to which she bequeathed her property on condition that a monument to her be placed in the Accademia's church, SS Luca e Martina.
She died four years later, after enjoying a life of steady work and constant success.
Cantoria of the Santa Maria della Vittoria church, decorated by Mattia de Rossi where she was buried.
Here are some of her beautiful paintings!