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"The immensity of the universe" in the art of Giovanna Garzoni

Exhibition catalogue, edited by Sheila Barker

Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini

28 May - 28 June 2020

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Giovanna Garzoni astonished Europe with a virtuosic miniature technique for capturing reality, as highlighted in this splendid catalogue, which explores a much fuller range of her production to reveal how her images addressed, and in turn stimulated, the rise of cultural globalism and a new sense of connectivity across a vast geography.

Recognized as a protagonist in the evolution of scientific illustration, Giovanna Garzoni is in fact less known as an illustrator of the Baroque geographical imagery. In her harmonic and often small compositions the painter combines exotic objects of different origins —such as Chinese porcelain, nautilus from the Pacific Coast, Mexican pumpkins and flowers, South American plants or English lounge dogs— with the ultimate goal of amazing and amusing the viewer.

Born into a society in which women were not exactly encouraged to leave the confines of their homes, the painter was attracted to nature and exotic things since childhood. During her career, Garzoni’s innate curiosity led her to travel to various Italian and European cities.

In the meantime the world had become bigger and more complex in Giovanna’s lifetime. Maps that once had undefined areas and showed only coastal settlements were now filled in as Europeans traders, settlers and missionaries relayed home topographic knowledge of the Americas, Africa, India, Japan and China. Along with information came things: seeds, spices, artisanal goods, even live animals.

Europe’s nobility prized these exotic imports for their utility, beauty, rarity and the scientific insights they provided. Garzoni found inspiration in the teeming variety of objects in her patrons’ collections, the Medici family. Her artworks kindle the wondrous delight she felt upon encountering porcelain from Ming China, shells from the Gulf of California, marigolds from Mexico, and a lapdog from England. Seen through her curious eye, the exotic is naturalized and the marvelous is masterfully counterfeit-ed. Her art invites us to reflect upon the infinite complexity of the world, even its smallest parts.

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Discover the Exhibition at the Uffizi Gallery

Discover the Garzoni Challenge with AWA

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Discover our brand new accessories made for the Garzoni event

Data sheet

Edited by:
Sheila Barker
Edition (cm):
21x25
Year:
2020
Pages:
264
Illustrations:
200, colour
Languages:
English and Italian

Specific References

isbn
978-88-3340-144-7

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