Still life with flowers in an elaborate vase. ATTRIBUTED TO GIOVANNA GARZONI (ITALIAN, 1600-1670)

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Still life with flowers in an elaborate vase
Tempera on vellum
Vellum size: 9 5/8 x 12 3/8 in
Frame size: 18 1/4 x 21 in.


The artist delicately painted a bountiful bouquet placed in a wide urn decorated with a Greco-Roman design and set on a highly figured marble ledge. Each flower seems to have its unique placement with the ever so slight inference of a passing breeze. While we do not know the purpose for this elegant work through clues left by the floral selection and design upon the stoneware.

Flowers held an essential significance in a Renaissance painting, often offering a symbolic message. Here, we see the carnation, generally used for wedding celebrations representative of the flower of God, morning glory, a sign of humility, and tulips, for divine love.

Further, the rich brown on brown stoneware is decorated with a battle scene between tritons (mermen) and centaurs. This arrangement is not specific to a particular mythical war, but rather two very popular decorative themes for marriage wares. The renewed interest in classical themes during the period is also present, and another indicator that this composition may have been related to a wedding.

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