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Flower Power: How Flowers Have Been Represented in Art

4 min read
Flower Power: How Flowers Have Been Represented in Art

The flowers of any plant in the division Angiospermae are the reproductive portions of the plant. Flowers are often brightly colored and have a distinct shape, making them a popular subject of art. There are many artworks in The Metropolitan Museum depicting flowers, from paintings and sculptures to textiles and ceramics. These artworks provide a glimpse into how different cultures have represented flowers over time.

Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses

French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence / The Met

    Cezanne rarely painted flowering plants or fresh-cut bouquets, which were susceptible to wilting under his protracted gaze.
    He included potted plants only in three still lifes, two views of the conservatory at Jas de Bouffan, his family's estate, and about a dozen exquisite watercolors made over the course of two decades (from about 1878 to 1906).
    Cézanne seems to have reserved this particular table, with its scalloped apron and distinctive bowed legs, for three of his finest still lifes of the 1890s.

A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?)

French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris / The Met

    The juxtaposition of the prominent bouquet and the off-center figure, gazing distractedly to the right, exemplifies Degas's aim of capturing individuals in seemingly casual, slice-of-life views.
    The painting was preceded by a pencil drawing of the woman, also dated 1865.


Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise / The Met

    In May 1890, just before he checked himself out of the asylum at Saint-Remy, Van Gogh painted four exuberant bouquets of spring flowers, the only still lifes of any ambition he had undertaken during his year long stay:two of irises, two of roses, in contrasting color schemes and formats.
    In the Museum's Irises he sought a "harmonious and soft" effect by placing the "violet" flowers against a "pink background," which have since faded due to his use of fugitive red pigments.
    Another work from this series, Roses (1993.400.5), hangs in the adjacent gallery.

Barberini Cabinet

European Sculpture and Decorative Arts / The Met

    The arms are those of a Barberini cardinal, probably Maffeo Barberini (1568 - 1644), who became Pope Urban VIII in 1623.
    The scenes from Aesop's Fables are after woodcut illustrations in the edition by Francisco Tuppo published in Naples in 1485.
    The arms are those of a Barberini cardinal, probably Maffeo Barberini (1568 - 1644), who became Pope Urban VIII in 1623.

Jar with Basket of Auspicious Flowers

Asian Art / The Met

    In some of the porcelain on view, the color green predominates in the painted decoration.
    In others, such as this jar, it is shades of pink that dominate.
    Porcelains painted with this palette have generally been known as famille rose (pink family) in Western writings.

Chrysanthemums in the Garden at Petit-Gennevilliers

French, Paris 1848–1894 Gennevilliers / The Met

    Caillebotte's interest in floral subjects did not develop until the 1880s.
    This work of 1893 depicts flowers that he cultivated on his property at Petit-Gennevilliers.
    Chrysanthemums were hugely popular in France, celebrated for their resplendent colors and associations with East Asia.


active ca. 1650–80 / The Met

    Almost nothing is known about the watchmaker except that he made at least three of these unusual square-plated watch movements.
    The watchmaker Balthazar Martinot, working in Paris between about 1661 and 1697, also made square-plated movements, two of them in cases almost identical to this one, that have been attributed to the Paris goldsmith Isaac Bergeron.
    Bergeron is recorded makingwatchcases in 1671, but the Museum's watch is earlier by perhaps as much as a decade or more.

The Brioche

From 14th Century To 15th Century

From 14th Century To 15th Century

During the 14th and 15th centuries, artists in Europe began to break away from the traditional Gothic style. They began to experiment with new techniques and styles, resulting in a period of great creativity and innovation in the arts. Some of the most famous artworks from this period include the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and the sculptures of Donatello. Box with Romance Scenes     This coffret illustrated with scenes from Arthurian and other courtly literature of the M
-5 min read
From 1819 To 1826

From 1819 To 1826

The 19th century was a time of great change in the world of art. Artists began to experiment with new styles and media, and the art world was forever changed as a result. Some of the most famous artists of the time include Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso. The Falls of Niagara     The painting is of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.     The painting is based on a vignette of the falls from a map of North America published by Henry S. Tanner in 1822. Heroic Landscape w
-4 min read
From 1787 To 1800

From 1787 To 1800

The 18th century was a time of great change in the world of art. New styles and genres emerged, and artists began to experiment with new techniques and materials. The art of the 18th century reflected the changing times, and the growing interest in the natural world and the human form. Elizabeth Farren (born about 1759, died 1829), Later Countess of Derby     The Irish actress Elizabeth Farren made her London debut in 1777 and soon became one of the most popular comic performers of the day.  
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