|Pumpkin, Bartolomeo Bimbi, c. 1711, Florence, Museo Botanico. (The rectangular stone at the bottom reads: Pumpkin grown in Pisa in the garden of His Royal Highness in the year 1711. It weighed 45 kilograms or about 100 pounds.)|
Last night when I went to bed I wasn’t feeling well. In a hurried rush to get out the door next week—and back on the road to California—I have been doing far too much. Since reading complicated material is often very difficult when I feel unwell, I turn to imagery. Seed catalogs and garden magazines work most of the time, but I am often left with that icky I-can’t-afford-all-of-this taste in my mouth. In comparison, this art history book is the quiet calm that always soothes any little storm inside of me that I throw at it.
My steady bedside grab is called Gardens in Art by Lucia Impelluso. It’s part of a series of books put out by The J. Paul Getty Museum simply called: Guide to Imagery. I don’t think you have to be an art history expert to enjoy this book, but I am fairly certain it is a must if you love gardens. Following current curatorial style, the book is arranged thematically and it is not chronological. There are tons of paintings, and not too much text. The painting above was in the brief Still Lifes section.
The reason I picked this painting is that it was the work most emblazoned on my mind last night when I finally turned into a pumpkin myself. Still lifes are a favorite genre of mine to begin with, but this one really struck me because it reminded me so much of the photographs, come autumn, in so many magazines. This image resonates much more strongly with me than many of the others I’ve seen, both in books and museums domestically and abroad, and if you garden, I think you know what I mean. We’ve all wanted a painting like this of something from our own garden bounty writ large like a trophy. This painting could replace the huge mirror above my fireplace any day.
More about California next time…