Studies of Greater Flamingos. ITALIAN SCHOOL (17TH CENTURY)

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Studies of Greater Flamingos
Watercolor over pen and black ink on paper
Annotations: Roftrum serratum & lingua dentata Phoenicopteri prona et supina
Paper size: 12 5/8 x 17 1/8 in.
Frame size: 26 1/4in. x 30 5/8 in.

Provenance: Cassiano dal Pozzo, by descent to Cosimo Antonio dal Pozzo; Pope Clement XI;
Cardinal Alessandro Albani; King George III; Mendelson, London; James R. Herbert Boone;
Sotheby’s (New York), 16 September 1988, lot 160; W. Graham Arader III.
Literature: This work appears in a catalogue raisonné by Henrietta McBurney and Carlo
Violani: The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo: A Catalogue Raisonne. Part Four - Birds.




The Medici influence in the arts and sciences continued well into the seventeenth century. Fellow Florentine Cassiano dal Pozzo established an exemplar for the next generation of Italian intellectual elite by forming one of the most ambitious projects in the history of art collecting.

The principal scholars, antiquaries, scientists and collectors in Europe admired Cassiano dal Pozzo above all for the extraordinarily important collection he began to assemble in the mid-1600s, the so-called Museo Cartaceo, or Paper Museum. This “museum” was to consist of drawings and prints of many relics of antiquity, and also of geological specimens, plants and animals from all over the world. It was to be open for study to artists and scholars. Cassiano had connections to the very wealthy and influential Florentine family: the Medici.

Cassiano maintained connections with important patrons and friends, like the Medici family, who helped make their collections of bird specimens available for painterly use. Moreover, in 1603 he was admitted to Federico Cesi’s Accademia dei Lincei, a scientific society of which Galileo was also a member. This must have given special impetus to dal Pozzo’s collection of natural history drawings of which many of the bird studies were destined for reproduction in G. P. Olina’s L’Uccelliera, published in 1622. Because of the renown of Cassiano’s collection, much of it, including these watercolors, were later acquired by the English Royal Family.

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Art in the Age of the Medici

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