Flowers have a centuries-old tradition as a motif in the visual arts. They are part of the repertoire in almost all epochs and styles. Their beauty and symbolic significance make them a popular subject in still lifes and landscape paintings.

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The Flower – An Essential Subject in Art

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." This quote by the Impressionist Claude Monet already says a lot about the importance of the flower as a motif. In art history, it has a centuries-old tradition as a subject and its modes of depiction range from realistic and rich in detail to expressive and close to abstraction. In painting, flowers and blooms serve different purposes. On the one hand, they can be decorative elements within a larger scene or landscape. On the other hand, they can stand alone and form the centre of the picture. Starting in the 17th century, flower paintings took the decisive step toward becoming an independent subject in still lifes. In the artistic arrangements of inanimate objects, they were among the central and recurring motifs. However, between the 15th and 16th centuries, the scientific literature of botany already made a significant contribution to the further development of flowers as a pictorial motif. In textbooks and encyclopaedias, specific representations were required for nature studies and the documentation of plants, which made it possible to distinguish and classify them as precisely as possible. Consequently, the illustrations in natural history books had to be drawn in great detail and realistically.

Flowers Are Motifs Full of Beauty and Symbolism

Flowers are part of our daily lives. We enjoy their beauty and the unique play of colours of their blossoms. We use them as decoration for our homes and plant them in gardens. We use them to express gratitude, congratulations, or apologies. Some types of flowers also carry symbolic meanings - for example, the rose symbolises love. Because of their complexity, flowers are a highly interesting subject for pictures in the visual arts. Flower paintings often focus on the beauty and colourfulness of plants, for example, in still lifes, bouquet pictures or landscape paintings with flowering meadows. In addition to the visual aspect, the symbolic function of a flower can also be transferred into a work of art. For example, when it is used in still life as a symbol of beauty or transience. At ars mundi, you can buy beautiful flower paintings and bring the beauty of the paintings into your home.

Flower Paintings by Famous Artists

The majority of famous artists have dealt with flower motifs in their careers: Vincent van Gogh's sunflower or iris pictures are world-famous. Claude Monet's pictures of water lilies are among the most recognised works of Impressionist, and no less than three versions of the blossoms on the pond are on the list of the most expensive paintings. The Spanish genius painter Pablo Picasso created a true icon of art history with his picture "Hands with a Bouquet of Flowers", and the German expressionist Emil Nolde let his flower watercolours shine in unique colours. Other famous pictures of flowers are by Marc Chagall, Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Max Beckmann, Gustav Klimt, August Macke, Oskar Kokoschka, and Andy Warhol.