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THE NATURAL UNIVERSE OF GIOVANNA GARZONI BRINGS PALAZZO PITTI BACK TO LIFE
Flowers, plants and exotic shells, bizarre insects and animals with expressions bordering on the human: the forms and the poetry of nature take pride of place in the exhibition entitled "The Immensity of the Universe in the art of Giovanna Garzoni" hosted in the Andito degli Angiolini from 28 May to 28 June.
With this substantial retrospective (the first large monographic exhibition devoted to the Baroque female painter from the Marche) the Gallerie degli Uffizi was planning to celebrate a major female figure to mark Women's Day on 8 March 2020. "Hibernated" by the lockdown, however, the exhibition has now become a symbol of the return to normal life after the closure of almost three months occasioned by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Exhibition curator Sheila Barker: "The aim of this exhibition is to showcase Garzoni's astonishing geographical breadth and scope while also illustrating her breathtakingly penetrating artistic vision. Her starting point is always the heart, the fulcrum of people and things, which she then subjects to almost microscopic analysis. In particular, Garzoni focuses her attention on the exotic items in her patrons' collections, organising them in compositions that speak of the growing cosmopolitanism in the life of Europe's courts and the intense circulation of goods throughout the world in this particular historical moment when the globalisation process was taking its first steps".
The exhibition also plays a leading role in an initiative developed by Advancing Women Artists (Awa), which has chosen it to launch a worldwide challenge to artists and institutions to produce new creations inspired precisely by the art of Giovanna Garzoni (http://advancingwomenartists.org/). "In creating a challenge dedicated to this exhibition, we hope that the exhibition itself may become a cultural bridge between people of different countries – remarked Awa Director Linda Falcone – We hope that contemporary artists join in this global conversation on art and that through their work they let us know the extent to which Garzoni's achievements colour their creativity today". The exhibition is curated by Sheila Barker in conjunction with the Medici Archives Project; the catalogue is published by Sillabe; the English edition was made possible thanks to a contribution from Awa.
PALAZZO PITTI REOPENS IN COMPLIANCE WITH ANTI-COVID MEASURESAll the national and regional measures designed to contain the spread of COVID-19 are in force in Palazzo Pitti. Thus no one with a temperature of 37.5°C or over is allowed in (temperatures are taken at the entrance); visitors must wear masks for the duration of their visit; they must stand at least 1.8 mt. from each other and from members of staff; no crowds must be formed; groups cannot comprise more than 10 people; and tour guides must use a whisper system at all times. The price of admission is unchanged, but opening hours are slightly different in this first phase after reopening. To permit daily sanitisation, Palazzo Pitti will be open from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm, while the Tesoro dei Granduchi and Museo delle Porcellane, where it is impossible to ensure compliance with social distancing measures for architectural and logistical reasons, will remain closed for the time being.
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF GIOVANNA GARZONIGiovanna Garzoni was born in Ascoli Piceno in c. 1600 and picked up the technique of oil painting, probably from her uncle Pietro Gaia, in Venice while still a young girl. One of her first commissions was for a painting in a series depicting the Apostles for the church of the Ospedale degli Incurabili in Venice, a series to which such prestigious masters as Domenico Tintoretto also contributed. At the same time, she trained in the arts of calligraphy and miniature painting whil also acquiring skill as a singer and a player of string instruments, a talent that she was able to display at the Medici court at the age of 19. At 22 she wed the Venetian portrait artist Tiberio Tinelli, but their marriage failed on account of a vow of chastity which Giovanna had taken to thwart a prophesy predicting that she would die in childbirth. The marriage came to an end in 1624, with her relatives preparing to testify to Tinelli's use of witchcraft. Heeding her brother's advice to seek her "freedom", Giovanna moved to Naples in 1630, where she took up service with the Duke of Alcalŕ in the company of Artemisia Gentileschi. Passing through Rome, she attracted the patronage of the Barberini family and was introduced to the Accademia dei Lincei by the scholar Cassiano Dal Pozzo. In 1632 she moved to Turin where she was granted the title of "Miniaturist to Madama Reale”. On the Duke of Savoy's death in 1637, she travelled, again in Artemisia's company, to the court of King Charles I in London where she made the acquaintaince of Inigo Jones. By late 1639 she was a member of Cardinal Richelieu's entourage in Paris, but from 1642 to 1651 she lived mainly in Florence, working for the Medici and primarily producing miniatures. She finally settled in Rome, where she died in 1670 and was buried in the church of the Accademia di San Luca, the first woman ever to be granted the privilege.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PITTI PALACEPurchased by Cosimo I de' Medici and his wife Eleonora of Toledo in 1550 in order to transform it into the new grand ducal residence, the Pitti Palace soon came to symbolise the Medici family's consolidated power over Tuscany. Though used as their official residence by the Medici and by two other dynasties, the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (the Medicis' successors from 1737) and the House of Savoy who lived there in their capacity as the Royal House of Italy from 1865, the Pitti Palace still bears the name of its first owner, Florentine banker Luca Pitti, who commissioned it in the mid-15th century – possibly to a design by Brunelleschi – at the foot of the hill known as Boboli on the "left bank" of the Arno. It currently houses four different museums: the Tesoro dei Granduchi on the ground floor, the Galleria Palatina and Appartamenti Imperiali e Reali on the piano nobile or first floor, and the Galleria d'Arte Moderna and Museo della Moda e del Costume on the second floor.
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