Flowers and Art

A gallery from the Cincinnati Art Museum.

The blue lotus, a fragrant water lily, was much loved by the ancient Egyptians. The petals open at sunrise and close at night, a flower associated with life eternally renewed by the sun. The blue lotus was a symbol of the God Nefertum, who grew as a lotus from the primal waters in the Egyptian creation myth. Nefertum became God of perfume and good luck. This wine vessel was likely a tomb object, to be used by the deceased in the afterlife.
A Bodhisattva is a Buddhist being who has attained enlightenment but remains available to aid and teach others. Guanyin, shown here, is the Bodhisattva of Compassion and meets the faithful at death and guides them to the world beyond. Dressed in a pleated dhoti (traditional men’s garment from India) and jewelry, the figure stands on an open lotus. The lotus is a symbol of growth and rebirth, with roots in the mud (materialism) and the flower sits above the water in the sun.
Dutch floral still lifes served to record unusual and beautiful botanical specimens, but additionally carried significant symbolic meaning. The ephemerality of blossoms were an obvious metaphor for the transitory nature of human life. The insects were also significant: the fly could symbolize decay, and the butterfly resurrection or the fragility of life.
This room likely served as the principal parlor in a villa of an affluent eighteenth-century Syrian family. Centrally featured is a small mihrab-like structure, inside a floral design that repeats throughout the room. Explore the elaborate pattern and design, both important elements in Islamic art. Influenced by both the Ottoman styles and European Baroque art. Search out examples of each style and compare.
Flowers can hold symbolic meaning, and that is demonstrated in this painting of Act IV, Scene V of Shakespeare's "Hamlet." The flowers are each passed out to various characters. Watch the video clip and compare to the painting.
Photography has many overlapping areas, hobby, art, journalism, and even scientific documentation. This early photography lobbied to bring photography to the level of fine art. Examine the textures, lines, and other elements of this photography. How do the flowers add to the composition? How does her expression compare to Ophelia's?
This is a traditional flower-and-bird painting, an old and recognizable subject in Chinese art. However this artist flattened the forms and exhibited more expressive brushwork. This was painted by an artist who left the court in protest as the government was taken over by the Mongolians to the North. How has the artist expressed his sorrow in this scene of a Spring day?
This is a scene from Edo, now Tokyo, at the Kameido Tenjin Shrine on the east bank of the Sumida River. This Shinto shrine is a place many students go to for good luck for upcoming exams. This is a shrine dedicated to a deity of educational success, a former government official who was wrongfully accused. The wisteria blossoms – inspiration to Monet’s paintings - requires ongoing attention or it can go out of control. This printing has an error, making this a rare print. The blue under the bridge should not be there.
Painted at the end of the artist’s life, the artist described the scene as Edenic. While suffering mental illness, he did most of his work during periods of sanity. During his final months he was painting nearly a canvas a day, including this work. “The trunks of the violet poplars cross the landscape perpendicularly like columns,” and Van Gogh added in a letter, “the depth of the understory is blue, and under the big trunks the grass blooms with flowers in white, rose, yellow, and green.” Explore the details within this painting, and how the artist capture the essence of flowers with quick and deliberate brushwork.
A birthday gift for her mother, Jane Bragge Pitman, this chest of drawers by Agnes Pitman was exhibited at 1875 Cincinnati Industrial Exposition and the 1876 Women’s Pavilion at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Each chest represents a month from spring to fall • April – crocus, snowdrops, Jacob’s ladder • May – fern, fiddlehead • June – morning glories, snakeroot • July – honey suckle, jasmine • August – fuchsia, wild rose, poppy • September – potentilla, gladiolus
This vase from the Rookwood Pottery Co. is of the Iris glaze line, said to be as luminous and opalescent as an iris petal held to the light. A crystal clear glaze, and internationally famous, shows the beautifully underglazed wisteria blossoms.
This evening dress, characteristic of Beene’s first collections, shows a large silk poppy at the waist. An example of how an artist took an old idea, the floral patterned dress, and made it extraordinary and new.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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