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On The Table Read, the “Best Celebrity Magazine in the UK“, COLNAGHI London presents a tantalising new exhibition devoted to female still life, the highlight of which is a spatially complex painting by the mannerist artist, Fede Galizia. An important rediscovery by Colnaghi, the work contributes to the reconstruction of Galizia’s corpus in her enigmatic final years.

Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit: Female Still Life will include other rare works by Giovanna Garzoni, painter to the Medicis and one of the first women to practice the art of still life, as well as the only known painting by Caterina Angela Pierozzi, protégée of Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere. The

Open at Colnaghi London from April 27 through June 24, 2022, Forbidden Fruit builds upon Colnaghi’s mission to spearhead new trends in art collecting, bringing the finest works in often overlooked categories to a new audience.

The Female Masters

This presentation includes work from the Renaissance to Baroque periods by: Giovanna Garzoni, Fede Galizia, Clara Peeters, Caterina Angela Pierozzi, Elisabetta Marchioni, Rachel Ruysch and others. The exhibition also spotlights the theme of diplomatic exchanges between nations, through the lens of female masters.

Says COLNAGHI Global Director Candida Lodovica de Angelis Corvi: “Connecting cultures has never been more important in the art and museum sector than it is today. Our presentation of masterworks by women from a variety of different nations – Clara Peeters, Fede Galizia, Rachel Ruysch and Giovanna Garzoni – highlights the overlooked role female artists played in diplomatic relations throughout history. Giovanna Garzoni, for example, was a globe-trotter of her time who visited and united different cultures through her work in different countries and cities which were often at war with one another – Naples, Florence, Rome, Turin – all different ‘states’. At a time when difference between nations can seem to grow each year, exhibitions which develop and draw our attention to the role art and women play in uniting cultures feels timely, apt and necessary.”

Colnaghi CEO Jorge Coll adds: “Forbidden Fruit offers a unique opportunity for our clients and visitors to enjoy never-before-seen masterworks by female artists who pioneered the still life genre, were successful during their lifetimes, and who pushed the art form forwards. Colnaghi’s programme of exhibitions consistently aim to uphold our historic firm’s commitment to connoisseurship and building collections, and this presentation aligns with this mission.”


Fede Galizia

Fede Galizia (1578-1630) was a prodigy who first achieved recognition aged 12. The daughter of the miniaturist painter Annunzio Galizia, Fede honed her skills in her father’s workshop. Here, she was exposed to a great range of artworks and witnessed the intellectual exchanges between the north of Italy and Flanders.

Still Life WIth Apples Pears Figs and Melons by Fede Galizia
Fede Galizia (1578 – 1630) Still life with apples, pears, figs and melon, c. 1625 – 1630 Oil on panel, 35.3 x 59.1 cm, 13 7/8 x 23 1/4 in

The attention to detail Galizia saw in paintings by Northern European artists such as Jan Brueghel, who visited Milan at the end of the 16th century, impacted her work immensely. Although historically overlooked, perhaps because she painted fewer than 20 still lifes and rarely signed them, these are among the earliest by any Italian artist, shaping the genre long before the still life painters we know today.

Still life with apples, pears, figs and melon, ca. 1625 – 1630, spotlights Galizia’s naturalistic, immensely
detailed approach to still life. Textures are captured through precise brushwork and dramatic contrast luminous pears, apples, figs and melon spring to life against a dark background. Galizia’s still lifes are intimate scenes in which she experiments with light, miniaturist details and offers a new female sensibility.

She may have come into contact with Caravaggio when he trained in Simone Peterzano’s Milanese workshop towards the end of the 16th century, and it is possible she was influenced in particular by his representations of fruit baskets, which we see here to the left of the canvas. Although better known for her portraits and religious paintings, still lifes are rightly acknowledged today as Galizia’s greatest contribution to art history.

This work also has a remarkable provenance, once belonging to Prince Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón
(1811–1875), grandson of Prince Gabriel, who was the son of Charles III. On the reverse it bears his collector’s mark – the letters SG, with a crown above. Part of Sebastián Gabriel’s collection was inherited from his first wife, Amalia of Naples (1818 – 1857), and the couple passed time between Naples and Rome. It is probable that the painting entered the collection through the activity of an agent and ambassador of the royal couple, during a diplomatic visit to Northern Italy.

Rachel Ruysch

Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1704 by Rachel Ruysch on The Table Read
Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1704 by Rachel Ruysch

Rachel Ruysch (1664, The Hague, Netherlands – 1750, Amsterdam, Netherlands) Ruysch revolutionised still life and contributed to the advancement of science through her art.

An intricately arranged composition, this small oil on panel is the very last painting we have by the artist’s hand. It is signed and dated in the lower right-hand corner alongside her age.

An array of finely detailed blooms burst forward into the picture plane, situated on the corner of a table. Dated 1748, this painting demonstrates the remarkable quality to which Ruysch was still painting at aged 84. Her brushwork, notably delicate and precise, reveals a degree of freedom from compositional canons, reflecting the vitality and imagination artists can achieve in the final moments of their production.

Colnaghi has a notable history of dealing in works by the artist, most notably placing Ruysch’s Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1704, in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Caterina Angela Pierozzi

Caterina Angela Pierozzi (c. 1670 – 1690) was an Italian painter active in Florence in the final quarter of the 17th century, documented as working for the Medici Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere, remembered for her patronage of female artists.

This exquisite miniature on vellum depicts The Annunciation and is surrounded by a border of minutely rendered flowers, including roses, tulips and lilies. It is the only known existing work by Pierozzi. The floral border surrounding the image highlights one of the Medici’s key interests which existed alongside their desire to identify their own sacrality with that of the Nunziata, botany and horticulture.

The Annunciation, Caterina Angela Pierozzi (c. 1670 – 1690)  on The Table Read
The Annunciation, Caterina Angela Pierozzi (c. 1670 – 1690)

These flowers are beautifully rendered with botanical accuracy, and we can presume that Pierozzi had these floral specimens in front of her as she created the miniature.

Giovanna Garzoni

Giovanna Garzoni (1600, Ascoli Piceno – 1670, Rome) Garzoni was one of the first women artists to work in the still life genre, her primary clients were the Medicis. We are delighted to present fine works realised by the talented court painter, which evidence her harmonious and immensely charming style.

Garzoni astonished Europe with a virtuosic miniature technique which utterly captured reality. Her diverse work was in high demand among the European nobility for its beauty and refinement, much like that of her close friend, Artemisia Gentileschi. The biographer Lione Pascoli, in his Vite (1730– 1736), stated that she could command for her art “any price that she asked.”

Today, her sophisticated still lifes can be found primarily in institutional settings Getty, LA, as well as the Uffizi, Florence.

A Global Effort To Bring Artwork Together

Candida Lodovica de Angelis Corvi concludes: “Forbidden Fruit is the result of global efforts by our team to source and bring together art works which are both immensely rare, and of the highest quality.

These paintings spark discourses on important themes including the history of collecting, diplomacy, nature and science. Adhering to Colnaghi’s history of fostering scholarship, each work is accompanied by rigorous scientific research.

I hope this exhibition provides a moment of discovery and renewal, welcoming the beginning of spring and the metaphorical return of Proserpina from the Underworld.”

About Colnaghi Gallery

Founded in 1760, Colnaghi is one of the oldest commercial art galleries in the world and one of the few to specialize in works of art from antiquity to the present day. Since the late-nineteenth century, Colnaghi has been a leading dealership in Old Master paintings and sculpture, prints and drawings, selling masterpieces to the greatest collectors and museums of the Gilded Age. With galleries today in London, New York, and Madrid, Colnaghi deals in rare objects from the Ancient World and the finest Old Master, Modern, and contemporary masterpieces, providing its clients with expert advice and opportunities to build collections.

Colnaghi is directed by CEO and owner Jorge Coll. Carlos A. Picón oversees Colnaghi New York.

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