Galizia had a very successful career as a painter of secular and religious subjects. Her body of work includes an altarpiece for a major Milanese church and numerous paintings for the Emperor Rudolph II. Her success is all the more notable given that she was engaged in a profession that was dominated by men.
Born in Milan and trained by her father, in modern times it was only in the 1960s that she emerged as a master of still-life painting. The Montreal painting is a fine example of her work in this genre and exists in several autograph versions. Her fondness for this formula is unsurprising. The balance of the composition, the play of light and shadow and the slightly elevated viewpoint are carefully constructed. The dramatic use of chiaroscuro defines the forms, emphasizing the volumes of the fruit, each fruit and flower strategically placed. Some scholars have read Galizia’s painting as a memento mori (reminder of death), interpreting the browning half-apple as a representation of the passage of time and decay. The work is clearly part of an earlier Lombard tradition of still-life painting, exemplified by Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit of about 1595, still in Milan. However, the space in which Galizia depicts her still life is much tighter and darker, the subject consuming almost the entirety of the picture plane, and the fruit emerging and receding from the darkness of the background.