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Flowers have always been a common feature in artworks throughout history but these beautiful blooms have been immortalised in some of the most inspired and renowned artworks the world has ever seen.
‘Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’ is probably one Van Gogh’s most iconic works and is perhaps the most famous painting of sunflowers to date. This particular painting is but one of a series featuring the stunning, sunny bloom.
Born in 1853, Vincent Van Gough began drawing as a young boy in the Netherlands but only began painting in his twenties. Although he enjoyed capturing attractive landscape views, it was his series on sunflowers which received the most accolades.
He created two series of paintings centred on the sunflower; the first showed sunflowers lying on the ground, while the second displayed sunflowers in vases.
Van Gogh’s still life painting of ‘Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’ (1888), is particularly striking as it shows sunflowers in all stages of life from full bloom to drooped and withering.
Celebrated for his innovative use of the yellow colour spectrum throughout these series, Van Gogh made a name for himself as the painter of sunflowers.
Today many of his sunflower paintings reside in galleries all over the world, with some in the Netherlands at the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam, in New York at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one in Tokyo at the Sompo Japan Museum of Art, and this particular one in Munich, at the gallery Neue Pinakothek.
Where| Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’ (1888), Neue Pinakothek - Munich, Germany.
Oscar-Claude Monet (commonly referred to as Claude Monet) was a French impressionist artist born in 1840, whose claim to fame is easily his delicate and romantic oil on canvas representations of water lilies.
He was a strong practitioner of the technique known as ‘plein-air’ landscape painting (or open air painting), and initially took a strong interest in capturing French countryside views.
It was only in 1883 that Monet moved to Givenchy, where he purchased a house on a large property and took to painting the tranquil lily ponds found within.
These paintings would come to be his most noted artworks. His water lilies series eventually came to comprise of 250 paintings, which are now located in galleries all over the world, including some in Paris, Munich, Tokyo, The Hague, London, New York and Chicago.
Where| Water Lilies (1916), National Museum of Western Art - Tokyo, Japan.
Manet was a French painter born in 1832 who was instrumental in the evolution of realism to impressionism.
After two failed attempts at entering the training school for naval officers, Manet decided to become an artist.
He moved to Paris and took to replicating works from the Louvre as part of his tutelage.
After many years of creating celebrated paintings centred on people and social occasions, Manet fell ill and began painting soft and romantic floral images.
In 1882 he created the painting, ‘Lilacs in a Vase’. This image of a solitary vase, filled with lilacs shows a distinct transition from his earlier, rough and modern technique into a more distinctive impressionist style.
Where| Lilacs in a Vase (c 1882), Nationalgalerie - Berlin, Germany.
Georgia O’Keefe was an American artist born in 1887 and became particularly well-known for her close-up flower artworks.
From 1905 to1906, O'Keeffe studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New York in 1907, where she studied under William Merritt Chase.
It was only a year later that she decided that she would never be able to distinguish herself as a creative artist, and so she decided instead to become commercial artist.
Flowers eventually became an object of fascination for O’Keefe and featured in many of her works.
In 1928, she painted the strikingly beautiful piece titled ‘Oriental Poppies’, which presented a magnified view of the pistil and petals of an oriental poppy in vibrant orange hues.
The oil painting measures 30" x 40" and is currently on show at the University of Minnesota Art Museum in Minneapolis.
Where| Oriental Poppies (1928), University of Minnesota Art Museum - Minneapolis, USA
Born around 1526, Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian painter widely known for his creative portraits of figures composed entirely of fruits, vegetables, fish, books and flowers.
Distinguished as a painter of the mannerism style, these types of artist tended to show close connections between humans and nature, although from a personal perspective, Arcimboldo’s main objective was to express his own deep appreciation of nature.
Most notable was his series on the seasons, encapsulating all that each season represents by creating figures made up of their distinctive elements.
His representation of ‘Spring’ (1573), uses blossoming flowers to form the features of a man’s profile, while lively plants complete the body.
Where |Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando - Madrid, Spain.
Jan Brueghel the Elder was a Flemish artist born in 1568 to a family of painters.
His fascination with painting flowers throughout his artistic career led him to be nicknamed 'Flower Brueghel'.
He travelled through Belgium and Italy during his youth, learning from different artists and completing works for notable buyers (including Cardinal Federico Borromeo), but it was only upon return to Antwerp in 1596 that he focussed his artistic skills primarily on floral arrangements.
The circumstances and timing behind the creation of ‘Flowers in a Vase’ remain unknown, but the portrait itself is also particularly interesting due to the collection of flowers it features.
Containing lilies, tulips, fritillaries, daffodils, snowdrops, carnations, cornflowers, peonies, anemones and roses, these flowers do not bloom at the same time of year.
While each flower is painted with precision, giving it the illusion of realness, such a bouquet could never have existed in Brughel’s time.
Where| Elder Flowers in a Vase (year unknown), University of Minnesota Art Museum – Minneapolis, USA
Andy Warhol was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.
Born in 1928, Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator but it was his blotted ink style design for a shoe advertisement that saw him move on to album cover art and eventually his own painting and film work.
His personal lifestyle and unique style of art led to him becoming known as one of the most controversial artists of the 20th Century.
He was one of the early adopters of a printing technique known as silkscreen print making and took a casual approach to image creation which often led to imperfections such as smudges in his final works.
His works often centred on the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement, which pervaded the 60s.
In 1964, Andy Warhol began work on silkscreen paintings of flowers. During this time the flower had become a particularly evocative symbol, representing the age of peace, love, and anti-war protest.
He created a series of these vibrantly coloured images all relaying the same focus, many of which are hung at the Andy Warhol Museum in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
Where| Flowers (1964), The Andy Warhol Museum - Pittsburgh, USA