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Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter
Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter - Paintings & Drawings Style Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter - Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter - Antiquités - Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter
Ref : 110347
55 000 €
Period :
17th century
Artist :
Giovanni Stanchi
Provenance :
Medium :
Oil on canvas
Dimensions :
L. 59.25 inch X H. 45.28 inch
Paintings & Drawings  - Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter 17th century - Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter  - Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter Antiquités - Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter
Stéphane Renard Fine Art

Old master paintings and drawings

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Flower Garland by Giovanni Stanchi the most Flemish Italian flower painter

This painting is reproduced in the reference book on Roman still life "Pittori di nature morta a Roma - artisti italiani 1630 -1750" by Gianluca and Ulisse Bocchi - Arti Grafiche Castello 2005 (page 250 figure FS5), where it is mentioned as one of the few paintings that can be given with certainty to Giovanni Stanchi.

This highly decorative flower garland reveals a very strong Flemish influence, enabling us to attribute it with certainty to Giovanni Stanchi, the eldest of a sibling group of painters active in the production of still lifes in 17th century Rome. Probably painted before 1640, our garland conceals a mystical message beneath its decorative opulence, which we're about to reveal ...

1. Giovanni, Niccolò and Angelo Stanchi, a brotherhood of still-life painters in 17th-century Baroque Rome

The three Stanchi brothers, Giovanni (1608 - after 1675), Niccolò (ca. 1623 - 1690) and Angelo (1626 - after 1675) lived and worked together (like the Le Nain brothers), making identification of the different hands perilous.

Giovanni Stanchi's name is first mentioned in 1634, in the register of the painters' guild of the "Accademia di San Luca". Paid membership of the painters' guild provided not only a social network, but also commissions from important Roman families. In 1638, Giovanni Stanchi painted a picture for the Barberini family depicting their coat of arms surrounded by flowers. In 1660, he was commissioned by Cardinal Flavio Chigi to decorate a gallery with still lifes of flowers and fruit. The Chigis remained his principal patrons until after 1673. Thereafter, he received commissions from almost every important family in Rome. An invoice dated 1670 identifies Giovanni Stanchi and Mario Nuzzi as the painters responsible for the still lifes that decorated the famous mirrors in Palazzo Colonna. In 1675, Giovanni Stanchi's name appears for the last time in connection with a project in which he was engaged, together with Andries Bosman and the figure painter Ciro Ferri, to decorate the mirrors of the Palazzo Borghese on Campo Marzio.

Although all three brothers were active as painters, the records of their commissions always refer to Giovanni, since, as eldest brother, he was responsible for invoices and contracts. Only in a few cases is the name of one of the younger brothers mentioned. Only paintings with a strong Flemish influence dating from the first four decades of the 17th century, such as this one, can be attributed with certainty to Giovanni, as he was the only painter in the family at the time.

2. History of a genre: the flower garland

Jan Brueghel the Elder (Brussels 1568 - Antwerp 1625) is credited with inventing the flower garland theme during his stay in Rome in 1592. Such garlands were originally used to surround a religious subject, often a Marian one. This religious scene could sometimes be painted by another artist, as in the painting acquired in 1608 by Cardinal Borromeo, featuring a Madonna (painted by Henry van Balen), surrounded by a garland painted by Jan Brueghel.

This theme was taken up and developed in Rome from 1625 onwards by Daniel Seghers, before the young Giovanni Stanchi made it his own, reinforcing its symbolic dimension (to which we shall return) and moving away from the naturalistic approach of Jan Brueghel to develop a certain idealization of each flower, closer to the style of Mario Nuzzi (Rome 1603 - 1673). Giovanni Stanchi's garlands, of which he was the best Italian interpreter in the 17th century, also reveal him to be one of the most faithful to the Flemish tradition.

The book by Gianluca and Ulisse Bocchi lists nine still lifes very similar to ours, all executed on a black background (including the one reproduced as the last photo in the gallery, which belongs to the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna). Because of their proximity to Flemish works, they can be attributed with certainty to Giovanni Stanchi. Four of them belong to private collections, while the others are all in public institutions (Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie, Dessau; Galeria del Palazzo Bianco, Genoa; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux; Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna; Palazzo Chigi-Saraceni, Siena).

Like those in Flemish still lifes, the flowers depicted by Giovanni Stanchi bloom at different times of the year, ruling out any representation of a real bouquet. Alongside the more traditional flowers of our gardens (roses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, irises), it is also interesting to note the frequent inclusion of more exotic flowers such as jasmine and blue bindweed (ipomoea indica), which had been recently introduced to Europe from Mexico.

Each flower painted by Giovanni Stanchi seems to have its own individuality, a trait characteristic of Flemish painting, of which Stanchi was the best interpreter in Italy. One could say that Stanchi does not depict garlands of flowers, but flowers in a garland, each with its own identity and specificity, making it unique and different from the others. Captured in a low-angled light that seems to have captured them for eternity, they are drawn with clear, precise lines. As if they had been freshly cut, they emerge from the darkness in geometric figures that reinforce the tactile quality of their representation.

One of Giovanni Stanchi's distinctive features is to have substituted the central religious representation traditionally associated with Flemish flower garlands with a flight of goldfinches and butterflies.

3. Symbolic interpretation

In the 17th century, the contemplation of nature, through the variety of animals and plants, was considered a metaphysical activity, generating an appetite for eternal life. In this context, each representation of nature can conceal a symbolic dimension, presenting a complex, cryptic message that we propose to shed light on.

At the beginning, the garland of flowers is a symbol of the hortus conclusus, the walled garden evoked in the Song of Songs, and later interpreted as a symbolic image of Mary's virginity, but also as the place where the spiritual life can develop, protected from the world and its temptations. The garland thus becomes the image of the garden of the soul, a perfect imaginary space in which mystical emotions can develop. The emotion created by the beauty and fragility of flowers (which, it should be remembered, cannot coexist simultaneously in nature) tangibly affirms the equal dignity of the natural and the artificial. The apparent disorder of the flowers becomes geometrically ordered, and chromatically structured by the painter, who gives us the illusion that this garland is in suspension, freed from all constraints of gravity.

Since the Greek antiquity, the butterfly has been the symbol of the soul - which is why young Psyche's back is adorned with butterfly wings - but also of the access to the divine. In the Christian world, the butterfly became the symbol of the eternal life of the soul that leaves the body after death.

The goldfinch (often depicted in the hands of the Infant Jesus in Madonna and Child paintings, as in the Uffizi painting by Raphael) is also a representation of the soul, but in addition an evocation of Christ's crucifixion. Goldfinches are known for their taste for thistles, whose thorns evoke the crown worn by Christ during the Passion. According to some legend, a goldfinch stained its feathers with Christ's blood while removing a thorn from his forehead, a stain that has since been perpetuated among all goldfinches!

All these elements confirm that Stanchi, beyond the undeniable decorative strength of his paintings, is indeed inviting us to a philosophical meditation whose cryptic meaning was immediately comprehensible to the cultivated public of Roman dignitaries for whom his canvases were intended.

4. Framing and painting presentation

Our painting is framed in a modern Flemish-style frame that echoes Giovanni Stanchi's Flemish inspiration. A particularity of this painting is that it can be presented both vertically and horizontally.

Delevery information :

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Stéphane Renard Fine Art


17th Century Oil Painting