Giovanna Garzoni

Dates1600 - 1670

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.

Scholars have speculated about Garzoni's early training, and though none have come to any firm conclusions, they all cite Jacopo Ligozzi as an influence. Like Garzoni, Ligozzi painted botanical and zoological specimens for the Medici court. In 1666, Garzoni made a will bequeathing her entire estate to the painters' guild in Rome, the Accademia di San Luca, on condition that they erect her tomb in their church. She died four years later, after enjoying a life of steady work and constant success.