The Pergamene Fiorite: Flower collections from the Medici collection exhibit runs until December 14 at the Still Life Museum in Poggio a Caiano, showcasing a series of floral paintings that date from the early seventeenth to eighteenth century.
The paintings were all done on parchment, or ‘sheep paper’ as the material was traditionally called. As well as achieving artistic precision, these sheets of parchment boast a texture and density that could not have been preserved using ordinary paper.
Ancient parchments were used to represent not only still life, but also landscapes, portraits and religious figures. In the sixteenth century, Florentine artists began to adopt this artistic style and it became apparent in the Medici inventories. Their floral scrolls, displayed in the exhibition, are painted onto miniature squares with such detail that it is possible to depict the species of each plant. The flowers range from cultivated species to wild plants and are usually portrayed in grand bouquets, sometimes accompanied by fruit or poultry.
As a result of extensive research carried out by Paolo Luzzi from the Botanical Garden of Florence, images explaining the different species of flower are displayed alongside the works. Due to the need for proper preservation, many of the scrolls on show have been held in museums and, until now, never been exposed to the public.
One of the most important miniature painters of the seventeenth century, Florentine Giovanna Garzoni helped create the analytical method of observing natural species through art. Many of her scrolls are displayed in the exhibition, as well as those of Lorenzo Todini, Sister Teresa Bernice, Alessandro Marsili and Ferdinando Narvaez.
The vast array of scrolls on display, by famous names and unknown painters, shows how important this artistic style was for almost a century.
Pergamene Fiorite: Flower collections from the Medici collection
Until December 14
Still Life Museum, Poggio a Caiano
Open daily: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.