Giovanna Garzoni

Italian, 1600-1670

Here Giovanna is portrayed in a costume that recalls a nun’s habit. Although she was not a nun, she did take a vow of chastity. This decision enabled Giovanna to focus on her occupation as an artist and gatherer of information about natural history and botany, rather than concern herself with the social activities associated with moving in the courtly circles of 17th-century Europe. Jane presents an image of Giovanna as a woman with alert eyes that convey a keen sense of observation. In this painting, she is placed next to one of her still-lifes. An acute and heightened naturalism in her works became Giovanna’s calling card and made her work highly prized by 17th-century-Italy’s most prominent families, including the Barberinis and the Medicis.

1 Biancani Stefania, “Giovanna Garzoni.” In Italian Women Artists from Renaissance to Baroque, ed. Elizabeth S. G. Nicholson, (Milan: Skira, 2007), 220.

Original Works Referenced

Giuseppe Ghezzi
Portrait of Giovanna Garzoni
Accademia Nazionale di San Luca

Still Life with a Basket of Fruit, a Vase with Carnations, and Shells on a Table
Washington D.C.
Holladay Collection
National Museum of Women in the Arts