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Immortal Flowers

Updated: Apr 10

Nothing is quite as cherished, and at the same time as temporary, as a cut flower. Fine artists throughout the ages have been inspired by botanical gifts, and they put a lot of effort into capturing them forever.


The Lotus of Ancient Egypt


One of the earliest and most prevalent floral symbols in art was the sacred lotus in ancient Egypt. The stylized lotus adorned tomb paintings, pottery, jewelry, and architectural columns beginning around 3000 BCE.


With its sun-mirroring shape, the lotus represented the sun, creation, and rebirth for the Egyptians.



The famous Tomb of Sennedjem contains exquisite examples of blue lotus blossoms painted on plaster.


Greece and Rome


The rose's layers of velvety petals proved irresistible to ancient Greek and Roman artists who celebrated the flower's natural beauty.


The Romans associated roses with Venus, the goddess of love. Roses commonly appeared in mosaics, wall paintings, and on ceramic vessels and jewelry.



Other flowers like poppies, acanthus, and lilies decorated pottery, stone reliefs, and mosaics.


Masterpieces


During the Renaissance, flowers took on new symbolic Christian meanings and enjoyed a resurgence.


Many famous Renaissance paintings contain flowery religious symbols like the Passion flowers and white Madonna lilies of Titian's "Madonna of the Rabbit."


The Dutch Golden Age gave rise to magnificent still life flower paintings with botanically accurate portrayals of tulips, roses, irises and more arranged in vases or bouquets. (My personal favorite.)




Impressionist Gardens


In the late 1800s, the Impressionists found inspiration in the luscious colors and the loose soft structures, as many flowers lent itself to this looser, more suggestive style of painting an inspired romantic ‘impression’ not a copy.


Monet's water lily pond in Giverny showcased ever-changing mirror-like reflections.


Other Impressionists like Renoir and Cassatt filled canvases with figures amid garden landscapes or carrying armfuls of blossoms.


Van Gogh's “Sunflowers" series is one of history’s most famous odes to the iconic sunflower.



Modern and Contemporary Blooms


Flowers continued flourishing in modern art, from O'Keeffe's magnified close-ups of flowers to Warhol's pop art silk-screened bouquets.


Contemporary artists like Tara Donovan sculpt organic shapes from thousands of conventional materials like plastic cups and drinking straws arranged to mimic flowery forms.



From ancient times to modern day, the beauty of flowers have inspired artists, and artists have ensured those ephemeral booms will continue to inspire centuries later.

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