Refined in handling and of excellent quality, this painting of a white parrot set atop a perch over various nuts and dried fruits, appears to be an autograph version of an iconic work by Bartolomeo Bimbi today in the Museo della Natura Morta at the Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano.1
A gift from the Indies, this rare and extravagant bird, also known as a salmon-crested cockatoo, was a prized pet of Cosimo III de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He commissioned its portrait to adorn the walls of his Villa Ambrogiana from Bimbi, an esteemed artist of the Medici court well-known for his paintings of flowers and animal. Bimbi delivered his painting to Cosimo on 6 October 1716, and on 12 November it was sent to the Villa to hang on the second floor alongside other paintings of rare animals, most of which were also by Bimbi. Despite the prime being in the Medici collection, it is not improbable that Bimbi would have made the present work for another important client also captivated by the beauty and rarity of this exotic animal. Notably, this composition served as a model, in reverse, for the salmon-crested cockatoo in Saverio Manetti's Storia Naturale
(1767-1776), among the most important ornithological studies of the eighteenth century.2
1. Oil on canvas, 87 by 72.5 cm, inv. no. 4896. See S. Casciu in M. Gregori, La Natura Morta Italiana: Da Caravaggio al Settecento, exhibition catalogue, Milan 2003, pp. 292-293, reproduced.
2. See S. Meloni Trkulja, in Bartolomeo Bimbi: Un pittore di piante e animali alla corte dei Medici, Florence 1998, p. 195.