Shells, second half of 17th century
Oil on canvas
Palazzo della Provincia, Siena
by Bartolomeo Bimbi (b Settignano, Florence, 1648; d Florence, 1730)
Bartolomeo Bimbi studied in Rome with Mario dei Fiori, then with
Lorenzo Lippi, Onorio Marinari and Agnolo Gori (1610/20-78). He was employed at
the Medici court, particularly under Ferdinand II and Cosimo III de' Medici and
by Cosimo's daughter the Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa, to paint large
canvases of flora and fauna for the Medici Villa dell'Ambrogiana and della
Topaia, now conserved in the Pitti Palace and the Museo Botanico dell'Università.
He specialized in painting from nature animals or vegetables that had some
extraordinary or freakish aspect; he classified these by species, season or
place of origin. His style, which remained constant throughout his long career,
is distinguished by its scientific accuracy, and he must have had close contact
with scientists and naturalists.
Bimbi's long career left a substantial degree of diversity in his oeuvre. He painted still-lifes, most commonly of flowers and fruit. His highly illustrative style was utilised to document various types of plants and vegetables, and often his paintings contain numbered items which relate to a list, which also appears as part of the picture, either in the form of a scroll or plaque.