Settignano 1648-Florence 1729
Still life with vegetables and fruit from late summer
oil on canvas, cm. 74×98
The composition of fruits, characterized by the presence of a melon, clusters of grape and a pomegranate, is placed in front of a basket; some mushrooms issue from the latter, and a thistle is leaning against it. Subject of an expert assessment from 1991 by Mina Gregori, the canvas has been attributed to the authorship of one of the most famous specialists in this genre in Tuscany, Bartolomeo Bimbi. “The presence of some plants – the thistle, the chestnuts and the mushrooms” observes the scholar, “is tipically Tuscan”; while typical of Bimbi are the clusters of yellow and black grapes arranged so as to contrast with one another, and the open pumpkin “with fresh seeds, only just removed from the bed” – the painter frequently resorted to such elements to “underscore the botanical peculiarities of the plants” –, the general layout and the use of the light, “strong in the foreground and softened in the background”. Bimbi, who worked for the Medici family, painting the famous “campionari”, paintings aimed at recording and documenting, with an almost scientific approach, “the variegated and marvellous theater of nature” (Casciu, 2002), combines a naturalistic and concrete Tuscan style with a certain Roman magniloquence, that may be observed in the Baroque decorative style of vivacious details as the open pomegranate that reveals its treasures, or the dry crumpled leaf in the foreground. Also to be observed is the relation of this painting with the contemporary works by Nicola van Houbraken, also active in Tuscany, such as the still life Vegetables and fruits in the Museo Civico at Montepulciano.