The History of Flower Paintings and Artists

The Ancient Nature of Flowers
What is A Flower?
Flower Symbolism and the Development of the Arts
Flower Symbolism and Artwork
Flower Symbolism and Healing Art
Impressionism as Healing Art
Flower Paintings in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries
Flower Paintings and Pierre-Joseph Redoute
Flower Paintings By Impressionist Edouard Manet
Flower Paintings By Impressionist Claude Monet
Flower Paintings By Vincent Van Gogh
Flower Paintings By Georgia O'Keefe
Flower Paintings By Andy Warhol
The Universal Appeal of Flower Paintings

The Ancient Nature of Flowers

Flower fossils dating back 120 million years have recently been found by paleobotanists. More importantly, archeologists have uncovered a grave site in a cave in Iraq that indicates that Neanderthals of the Pleistocene cave-dwelling epoch may have placed bunches of flowers on grave sites. The pollen found at the grave site under study indicates a wide range of flowers were present as part of the burial ritual.

In ancient Rome, flower festivals were held in honor of the goddess Flora. Both men and women were awarded flower wreaths for victory in athletic competitions.

For the Romans, the rose was associated with the goddess Venus. Nero, the Roman emperor in the 1st century AD, literally used tons of rose petals to impress his dinner guests. Cleopatra had her living quarters filled with rose petals to impress Marc Anthony. Roman women believed that roses would remove wrinkles if used in poultices. Rose petals were also dropped in wine to counteract drunkenness. Victorious Roman armies would be showered with rose petals as they paraded through the streets.

Rose wreaths have also been unearthed in ancient Egyptian tombs. In addition, ancient Confucian and Buddhist religious documents contain references to roses. The lotus also played an important symbolic role in Egyptian religion.

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What Is A Flower?

Flower Paintings 4Flowers are the reproductive part of angiosperms or flowering plants. Flowers consist of the exterior petals, the central pistil and the surrounding stamen. Some flowers are self-pollinating, while others require insects, wind or other means of cross-pollination. Flowers are sources of food for both animals and insects.

The incredible beauty of many flowers have given them added importance as decorative objects. Flowers are also an almost endless source of inspiration for poetry, stories and myths. Flower symbolism has existed almost as long as flowers themselves.

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Flower Symbolism and the Development of the Arts

ivy symbolismWith the incredible importance of flowers as far back as we can trace the life of man, it is understandable that all forms of art have involved flowers on some level: sculpture, books, music, interior design, painting, ceramics, decorative tiles and so forth.

During the Medieval and Early Renaissance Ages from the 13th to the 15th century, flower symbolism and plant symbolism developed as a way of teaching religious truths. For example, the ivy is an evergreen and symbolized eternal life. A peach symbolized truth and salvation and was used in place of the maligned apple.

For more on flower symbolism, see our recommended books from Amazon below :
Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees
The Language of Flowers: Symbols And Myths
The Language of Flowers
The Meaning of Flowers
Forget-Me-Not: A Floral Treasury Sentiments and Plant Lore from the Language of Flowers

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Flower Symbolism and Artwork

Healing Art Photo 3Artwork can be chosen with flower symbolism in mind. In addition, some flowers are associated with particular artists. Monet is famous for his water lilies, Georgia O’Keeffe is best known for her sensuous calla lilies and Vincent Van Gogh is associated with his portraits of sunflowers. Choose an image or gift based on flower symbolism for yourself or someone you love that encapsulates the values or feelings that you want to convey!

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Flower Symbolism in Healing Art

Healing Art Photo 8Researchers are now also discovering the therapeutic value of positive visual symbols in healing art. This symbolism can be a part of healing art due to the colors utilized, the subjects depicted or the patterns of eye movement created in the viewer. Flower, tree, landscape symbolism are among the more prominent forms of symbolism that can add healing value to art.

The Victorian language of flowers is an example of detailed symbolism invested in a particular subject. Not only do red roses symbolize love, but also each color has a unique meaning. For example, yellow roses convey joy and friendship, while pink roses represent happiness.

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Impressionism as Healing Art

The art of the Impressionists, the best-selling and most beloved art style for almost a century and a half, capitalizes on the natural movements of the human eye. Some art historians and scientists theorize that this is because the impressionistic style consists of placing patches or pieces of color next to one another rather than completely blending them as was done in the classical style.

Healing Art Photo 10This color placement causes the eye of the viewer to move rapidly back and forth, mimicking the way that our eyes function in an outdoor environment. For example, we are comforted and healed at a very deep level by the movement of leaves as the wind rustles through the trees or the flickering of sunlight on a pond. This shimmering effect is replicated in the impressionistic style. The result is calming, soothing and inherently a form of healing art.

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Flower Paintings in the 17th-19th Centuries

Flower paintings really took off in the 17th through 19th centuries. Flower paintings generally symbolized the romantic notion that the delights of this world are transitory and perishable.

Flower paintings were everywhere: murals, fabrics, costumes, calligraphic art, illustrations, interior accessories and more. The unending variations of flower forms kept the interest in flower paintings high as new flowers were imported from the East and the New World.

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Flower Paintings and Pierre-Joseph Redoute

The most extraordinary creator of flower paintings in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was Pierre-Joseph Redoute. Born into a family of painters, Redoute was an artistic prodigy who left home at the age of thirteen to seek his fortune as a painter of portraits and religious themes. After discovering the flower paintings of Dutch painters Brueghel and Ruysch during his travels, Redoute turned to creating flower paintings himself.

When he reached Paris, Redoute was mentored by Gerard Van Spaendock. Van Spaendock was also a Dutch painter and was the official Royal Professor of Painting for the French court. In addition, Redoute was tutored by Charles L'Heritier, a French aristocrat and botanical expert. After teaching Redoute about plant anatomy, he commissioned him to illustrate a book on botany.

Redoute's reputation as a painter of flowers was reaching great heights. Soon he was appointed as the official court painter for Queen Marie Antoinette. After the revolution, Redoute enjoyed the patronage of Empress Josephine. The Empress loved both flowers and art and created extensive gardens with a fantastic variety of beautiful plants and flowers. All of this aided Redoute, who produced extraordinary flower paintings for a number of books during this time.

Redoute's acclaim for his flower paintings reached it's pinnacle with the sale of a book dedicated to the illustration of roses. Redoute used a stipple engraving technique that result in incredible detail and subtle color variations. The book was sold to French aristocracy in monthly installments of four flower painting images for three years, at which point the book was permanently bound.

Eventually Redoute moved into flower paintings emphasizing aesthetics rather than botanical accuracy and continued in this vein until his death at the age of eighty. Redoute's flower paintings can still be found today as books, posters and even decorative stickers!

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Flower Paintings By Impressionist Manet

The flower paintings of Edouard Manet is characterized by loose brush strokes, simple forms and contrasting colors. Manet's style rejected the careful shading and color transitions of botanical illustrations in favor of a fresh look that unabashedly declared the role of artistic interpretation to be more important than careful accuracy.

Manet also used outlining and strong lighting contrasts in his flower paintings and art depicting a myriad of subjects. Manet also rejected the tradition of deep space and perspective that had been prominent in art for centuries. His works, including his flower paintings and other still-life images, stayed near the surface of the painting, emphasizing the materials of art rather than the illusions of art.

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Flower Paintings By Impressionist Claude Monet

Art SymbolismClaude Monet is most famous for his self-created outdoor studio--the gardens at Giverny. Monet had moved to Giverny Monet five years after the death of his wife Camille and immediately after the death of his friend and mentor, Eduoard Manet. Monet was immediately taken by the blooming apple trees and pink stucco farmhouse. Monet rented the farmhouse for seven years before purchasing the property for himself.

Monet began creating his flower gardens, including a pond and bridge, for his own pleasure. Soon, however, he recognized the potential inspiration for his art work. As the gardens increased in complexity and size, Monet began to create flower paintings almost exclusively.

Art MeaningFor the next forty years, Monet's flower paintings consumed his attention. As he grew more successful, he employed full-time gardeners to allow him to spend all of his own time on his flower paintings. Monet's flower paintings are bright and colorful. Each piece of color is distinct brush stroke. The result is a shimmering effect that has helped to keep his flower paintings among the most popular and recognizable images of all time.

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Flower Paintings By Vincent Van Gogh

Painting SymbolismAs Impressionism gave way to the modern era, artists continued to emphasize the sensory pleasure of flower paintings over the symbolic meaning of flowers. Flower paintings had been considered inferior to landscape and portrait painting, but now began to take on a new level of expression.

This is particularly true in the case of Van Gogh, whose flower paintings treated each blossom as if it were a full-fledged portrait. Van Gogh is most famous for his flower paintings featuring sunflowers, but he also painted a number of other flowers in his still-life works.

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Flower Paintings By Georgia O'Keeffe

Flower Painting ArtistsThe continuing emergence of abstract art threatened the place of flower paintings in realism. Although the prosaic gardenscapes and still-life images traditional in flower paintings were relegated to the past during this period, the versatile forms of flowers actually revealed tremendous potential for more abstract images.

Georgia O'Keeffe successfully returned the flower to prominence with her series of close-ups of calla lilies. She wanted to have the viewer really look at the fundamental form of the flower without any preconceived notions. Her sensual flowers redefined the flower as a pure, almost geometric form. Georgia O'Keeffe's "Calla Lilies with Red Anemone" (1928) recently was sold for $6.2 million at a Christie's auction in New York. Read our article on calla lilies. See our gifts featuring calla lilies.

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Flower Paintings By Andy Warhol

Art SymbolismThe serial images of flowers created by Andy Warhol placed flower paintings squarely in the modern era. Andy Warhol's flower art was based on photographs and usually contained a limited number of flowers with a very basic, five-petal form.

Warhol's flower paintings series experimented with different color combinations for flowers with little depth or other images in the background. In this flower paintings, the focus was completely on the simple motif of the flower itself.

Warhol established the flower as a thoroughly modern subject, a status it has enjoyed ever since. Warhol also created a gender equality for flower paintings. Both men and women artists today view flower paintings as a motif worthy of their time and attention.

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The Universal Appeal of Flower Paintings

Art HistoryThe appeal of flower paintings is timeless and crosses all national boundaries. Top publishers continue to find that flower paintings are successful in nearly all markets and in nearly all price ranges. Not only do flower paintings cross all demographic groups, but flower paintings appeal to people in all age groups as well.

Approximately 65% of all decorative retail art is flower paintings. The wide range of forms from simple and bold to complex and delicate ensure a remarkable diversity in flower paintings. Although roses are a perennial favorite, retailers agree that just about any flower paintings will appeal to a certain segment of the population. It appears that flower paintings will continue indefinitely to be a "growing" market.

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