National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

The Flowering of Florence: Botanical Art for the Medici, 3 March - 27 May 2002

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 Daniel Froeschl, Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Seen from the Back, Date Unknown The arts and the natural sciences were closely linked in Italy between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The Medici family, dynastic rulers of Florence and the region of Tuscany, took an ardent interest in horticulture and sponsored the work of eminent botanists. Their love of gardens and the botanical sciences coexisted in perfect harmony with their extraordinary patronage of the arts. The exhibition presents some of the finest examples of botanical art created for the Medici, from Cosimo I (1519-1574), who came to power in 1537 and founded the duchy of Tuscany, to the last male heir, Giangastone, whose death in 1737 brought the great dynasty to an end.

The Flowering of Florence opens with depictions of flowers in fifteenth-century religious paintings and early nature studies. The exhibition then focuses on the work of three painters in Florence, Jacopo Ligozzi, Giovanna Garzoni, and Bartolomeo Bimbi, who dedicated themselves to the representation of the natural world. These artists brought to their subjects not only a masterly technique, but also a freshness and originality of style that would have a lasting influence on botanical illustration and the art of naturalistic painting.