National Gallery of Art acquires works by Fede Galizia and Caterina Angela Pierozzi

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National Gallery of Art acquires works by Fede Galizia and Caterina Angela Pierozzi
Caterina Angela Pierozzi, Annunciation, 1677. Gouache on vellum in a frame of metal and blue glass, sheet: 13.4 x 18.1 cm (5 1/4 x 7 1/8 in.) framed: 22.5 x 27.8 cm (8 7/8 x 10 15/16 in.) (not including hanger at top of frame) National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of Funds from Roger Sant, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, and Gift of Funds from Deborah Burkland 2023.3.1

WASHINGTON, DC.- Fede Galizia (documented 1587–1630), whose work was overlooked for four centuries, is now known for her luminous and striking naturalism. The National Gallery of Art has acquired Still Life of Apples, Pears, Cucumbers, Figs, and a Melon (c. 1625–1630), a late work by the artist. This acquisition not only increases the National Gallery’s holdings of women artists and still-life paintings from this period, but also creates an important dialogue with contemporary Spanish still lifes, including works by Juan van der Hamen y León and Luis Egidio Meléndez.

Galizia was the daughter and pupil of miniaturist and metalworker Nunzio Galizia. She painted portraits and devotional subjects, but she is most famous today for her still lifes. She made her career in Milan, a center of Counter-Reformation religious fervor and scientific inquiry.

While many of Galizia’s earlier still-life paintings focus on a single bowl of fruits and flowers, Still Life of Apples, Pears, Cucumbers, Figs, and a Melon celebrates the varied bounty of the natural world. An extremely skilled and detailed still life, the painting inspires the viewer to meditate on the splendor of nature. In the early modern period, such a work would have held both religious and scientific significance, allowing the viewer to be spiritually moved as well as marvel at the new scientific discoveries made possible by the recent invention of the microscope.

Acquisition: Caterina Angela Pierozzi

Active in Florence in the late 17th century, Caterina Angela Pierozzi (active c. 1670–1690) worked for the Medici Grand Duchess of Tuscany Vittoria della Rovere, who was well-known for her patronage of women artists. The National Gallery of Art has acquired the only known work by Pierozzi. Recently discovered, the signed and dated (1677) miniature on vellum depicts the Annunciation and is mounted in a period frame of metalwork and brilliant blue glass.

Bust-length portraits of the angel Gabriel and the Virgin are cropped by an internal gold frame with an inscription of the artist’s name, her native city, and the date. This composition derives from the supposedly miraculous image of the Annunciation in the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata in Florence, which was venerated for its power to intervene in earthly matters on behalf of its worshippers. By 1677, the date of Pierozzi’s miniature, the Medici family were the custodians of the fresco, restricting the public’s access to it. As such, it is likely that Pierozzi’s miniature is linked to Grand Ducal patronage. The intricately rendered floral border of delicate pink, lavender, and blue flowers is further evidence of a Medici commission, as the court is known to have been interested in botany and horticulture.

Very little is known about Pierozzi’s life. According to a contemporary biographical dictionary of Florentine artists, she was married to the painter Michelangelo Corsi and was likely trained from an early age by her uncle. Pierozzi was accepted into the Florentine Accademia di San Luca in 1684.

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