While her role in the evolution of scientific illustration is widely acknowledged, Giovanna Garzoni is less familiar as an illustrator of geographical fantasy in the age of the Baroque. In harmonic and often relatively small compositions, the painter combines exotic objects of extremely varied provenance such as Chinese porcelain, Pacific nautili, Mexican marrows and flowers, South American plants and English lapdogs, in an effort both to astonish and to amuse.
Turning her back on the conventional role reserved for women in her day, Garzoni travelled in Italy, and possibly also in France, gaining access to the most important collections of curios of her era. The exhibition showcases her works collected by the Medici and still owned by the Gallerie degli Uffizi, alongside targeted loans illustrating the artist's field of action and her prowess as a portraitist. On the basis of a previously untapped inventory, a section of the exhibition reconstructs Vittoria della Rovere's Wunderkammer, once hosted in the Sala dell'Aurora in the villa of Poggio Imperiale, thus indirectly shedding light also on a leading member of the grand ducal family.
The exhibition is curated by Sheila Barker.