Fede Galizia painted mostly miniatures, portraits, and altarpieces. She was
best known for her still lifes, which were very rare in Italy during her era.
Her still-lifes were extremely detailed and quite different from her father's
works; she would use more details and vibrant colors. Most all of Fede's
still-lifes were works that included fruit bowls.
Fede Galizia was born in Milan, Italy in 1578. Fede, like many other
female artists of that era, learned her artistic skills from
her father. Her artistic talents were first recognized when she was 12; by 1596
she was well known for her portraits and religious works. The styles of her
portraits were made using the naturalistic traditions of the Renaissance in
She received several commissions for altarpieces in the churches of Milan,
one of these was the Noli me tangere she made for the altar of Saint Maria
Although very few sources mention Fede’s still-life paintings, they are the
majority of her works that still survived.
One of her signed Still-lifes made in 1602 is said
to be the first dated still-life by an Italian artist, and proves her
involvement in this new style of painting. Her still-lifes most always faced the
viewer and were proportional in their parts. They usually featured a basket, or
a bowl that contained a single kind of fruit, such as a peach or a pear.
Many of her still-lifes had fresh flowers or other fruits set on the counter to
provide a noticeable contrast, scale and, in some cases, to suggest the vanitas theme¹ as seen in her work titled, "Still-life with
Peaches and a Porcelain Bowl".
Fede's work displayed influences from such works as Caravaggio’s "Basket of Fruit".
Fede did not explore the more lavish compositions and forms taken up by many of
her contemporaries working in this genre, she preferred instead to use a
stricter more simplistic style like that of Francisco de Zurbarán
Fede's artistic skills of drawing and painting are evident her "Portrait
of Paolo Morgia". The subject here is a Jesuit scholar, one of her
earliest patrons and supporters. Morgia who was a writer and historian, was very
pleased with Fede's work, this was depicted in the painting "Portrait of Paolo
Morgia" that portrayed
him in the
process of writing a poem about the picture Fede was painted. Morgia said of this painting,
"The handwriting on the paper is
legible, and furnishes this literal translation of the Italian: "O admiring
traveler, if thou wishest to know whose brush gave voice to this image of
myself, which thou seest here", it was Fede Galizia, who, to keep me in life
after death, breathing here, and here alive, shows me to you."
History shows us that although Fede never married, she lived a happy life,
and had a successful art career.
Fede Galizia died in 1630 in Milan.
Her works are extremely colorful, vibrant, and eye catching. Her still-lifes
are so realistic in appearance, it looks like you could almsost feel the fuzz on
the peaches that are sitting in the "Still-life with Peaches and a Porcelain
¹ Vanitas theme Depicts "objects" that are luxurious and/or on the verge of
decay, such as fruit, flowers, coins, and beautiful women admiring themselves in
Examples of her still-lifes of fruit and baskets can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/3mt2x
More information on other lesser known female artists can be
Source: Women Artists. 1st ed. : Ruggio Publishing, 1977.
Image Source: http://www.bluffton.edu