Ancient truffles, huge pumpkins and watermelons, strange cauliflower, big apricots, giant citron lemons, fava beans, sheaves of wheat, grape bunches, pears, dates, beets, cabbage, mushrooms, chestnuts: it’s either a vegan paradise, or the all-original exhibition currently underway at Turin’s Palazzo Madama.
“Eccentric Nature. Bizarre fruits and vegetables in the paintings of Bartolomeo Bimbi for the Medici family” features 25 works of art by one of Italy's most important painters of still life. Bartolomeo Bimbi (Florence 1648-1730) was a skilled painter, a master in depicting nature in its many forms. The colors, smells, and tastes of what he depicted seem to emerge from his canvas.
Bimbi worked at the court of Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici, who was a lover of plants and fruits, which he considered a reflection of the divine magnificence; he was so taken by them that he took personal care of their cultivation and growth.
Bimbi brought to Florence new species and varieties from around the world. With the help of the Medici court's botanic, Pier Antonio Micheli, he began a detailed cataloguing, organized by species, season, and provenance.
The result of this scientific work is a unique collection of paintings which can be considered among the best in the still life genre of the time. The entire collection is housed in the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florence and the Museum of Still Life in the Renaissance Villa Medici at Poggio a Caiano.
Alongside the paintings on display are 60 magnificent wax models depicting life-size fruits, which contribute to the spectacular exhibition setting, inside the 18th century Sala delle Quattro Stagioni (Room of the Four Seasons).
The exhibition at Palazzo Madama is open until April 11, 2016. It is a great chance to discover the elegant city of Turin, which was listed by The New York Times among its 52 places to go in 2016.