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Paintings of Flowers

With their fragile beauty, distinct tones and almost fragrant visualisation, flowers have long been a favourite subject for an artist to imprint on the canvas. Botanical paintings with decorative designs or symbolic abstract images of flowers breathe a sense of freshness and optimism into a room. Take a look at some of the most memorable, influential and wholly admired paintings of flowers.

The early Dutch painters were more delicate in their approach compared to some of their international counterparts, and would include such things as snails, spiders, moths, fallen dead leaves and flowers. This gave the paintings a sense of reality, in which you felt the artist, had a genuine interest in the subject matter and was not just pandering to benefactors.

‘Bouquet in a Clay Vase’, Jan Brueghel the Elder

Jan Brueghel the Elder, who lived from 1568 to 1625, produced fantastically detailed paintings of flowers. Because they seemed almost unreal, they have been nicknamed ‘vanitas’, which means a combination of reality, symbolism and the perfect ideal. This extended to his Landscape paintings which were often full of people, animals and strange flora.

Due to his fondness of flowers and vibrant enamel paint, Jan Brueghel was given the nickname “Velvet” of “Flower” Brueghel. The ‘Bouquet in a Clay Vase’ (1599 – 1607) encapsulates the Flmmish painter’s subtle approach to his work and the frail beauty of the subject. The painting is on display at Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

Lilacs in a vase, Edouard Manet

The French painter Edouard Manet was one of the first nineteenth century painters to approach modern-life subjects and was a leading figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.  His enduring painting, ‘Lilacs in a Vase’ (1882), similar to many of Monet’s paintings of flowers, is commonly placed in homes, on calendars and even on coffee mugs.  Manet was unfortunate to suffer a long illness before he died, however some good did come out of it. He would paint the small bowls of flowers that visitors would bring, including his legendary ‘Lilacs in a Vase.’

Oriental Poppies’, Georgia O’Keeffe

“If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself – I’ll paint it big… and they will be surprised,” said the American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe about her compelling ‘Oriental Poppies’ (1928).

These glossy red poppies that simply explode out of the canvas are among O’Keeffe’s most famous works. Without any real background, nothing distracts the eye from the sheer beauty of the poppies, which are almost four feet wide. It is the vivid contrast of the black heart of the poppy and its red petals that makes this painting one of the most dramatic paintings of flowers of the 20th century.

We cannot pass over Mr Van Gogh and his sunflowers, done as a set of wall panels in blues and yellows, to brighten up his home in Arles that he tried to share disastrously with Gauguin. They are the most famous of Van Gogh’s paintings of flowers, one of which sold for $101 million recently.

Now view Flower Paintings by Geoffrey Chatten available to buy.

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