The beauty of flowers has been inspiring artists for centuries now. That is why flowers are present on all kinds of pieces of art. In other words, these pretty plants are an inseparable part of art and all its aspects. Here is a small overview of flowers in art throughout the centuries.
The flower that has been first used in ancient art, according to researchers, is the lotus. It is found on wall paintings in many Egyptian tombs as well as in plenty of sculptures from some of the oldest dynasties. Egyptian jewellery makers also used the lotus blossom as a motif in various types of jewellery and the shape of the lotus was also the inspiration for the capital’s shape; at the top of the Egyptian columns. Ancient Romans also loved to depict flowers in their hand made art. For example, fresco paintings of gardens full of flowers, shrubs and trees were found in the remains of the city of Pompei, which was covered with volcano lava after the eruption of the Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D.
From 1200 to around 1400 A.D., during the Gothic period, depicting flowers in paintings became rather specific, for they were something like symbols of the importance or personality of certain people. For instance, many ‘Annunciation to the Virgin Mary’ paintings had a lily somewhere in the painting, which represents the purity of Virgin Mary. The name of the flower carnation derives from Greek language and, roughly translates to “God becoming flesh’, which refers to Jesus assuming the form of a human and frequently included in many Nativity pictures was the pink carnation. During the Renaissance, the interest in Ancient mythology saw a revival. It was also often mixed with Christianity. In many paintings, mythological subjects were amplified by the use of flowers. This is especially noticeable in the paintings of Botticelli.
In the 17th century, floral themes began to be represented in paintings by the Dutch. With them, too, flowers had deep symbolism. For the Dutch artists, flowers represented something more than just beauty. Flowers were depicted in their different stages of life – from budding, through being in full bloom, to the stage where they start losing petals. This was considered a metaphor for human life. The tiny insects, on the other hand, that could be seen on the flowers were a symbol of various illnesses and decay. During the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, in France, some artists started painting still life flower paintings. They had primarily aesthetic ideas in mind while they were painting pictures of flowers in vases. Unlike the Dutch, they didn’t care much about symbolism. Post Impressionists like Matisse, Gauguin and Van Gogh were preoccupied by shapes as well as large color areas. The simplicity and boldness of Van Gogh’s famous sunflowers is what admired many.
Still, even today, paintings flower depicting could be found in almost every household. This proves that flowers have ‘found’ a suitable niche in art and are here to stay for many more years.
Bio: Daisy Hart is aesthete, blogger and art lover. She likes writing about flowers and how they find application in different spheres of life. Her current article is focused around the role flowers play in art.