The way beautiful flowers around us is used differently through art
The most famous flower paintings
Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1908)It wouldn't be a proper list of flower paintings without Claude Monet's Water Lilies. With this iconic series, the Impressionist genius gives a masterclass in en plein air painting. Monet was so devoted to the series that he ensured his personal garden in Giverny would always be in top form in order to give him the inspiration he needed. Monet painted over 205 pieces for the series over the last 30 years of his life, with his loose brushstrokes often making the compositions border on abstraction. Most importantly, he never lost focus on bringing the spirit of the delicate water lilies to life, rendering them in rich colours and showing their beauty in different types of light.
Bouquet of Roses by Pierre- Auguste RenoirRenoir's Bouquet of Roses is a sensual oil on canvas work where the Impressionist master fills the frame with lush, plump rosebuds rendered in various vibrant hues of red and pink. Being yet another painter who turned to flower painting later in his career, Renoir frequently painted roses—most often red ones. At this time in his life, Renoir was freer with his art, simply wishing to evoke the feeling of the object rather than focusing on the minute details. This allowed him to create flower paintings that have a tactile quality and energy that radiate from the canvas.
Still Life with Irises by Vincent Van GoghThere are many famous flower paintings by Vincent van Gogh to select from, including his famed Sunflowers series. But we're partial to Still Life with Irises, which highlights the artist's interesting use of colour. Painted while he was a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy, this still-life is masterful in its use of bold, contrasting colours. The painting is one of two versions. One, which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was painted against a now-faded pink background meant to create a “soft and harmonious” atmosphere. Instead, Van Gogh had quite different intentions for this version, which he wrote about in a letter to his brother Theo. “The other violet bunch (ranging from carmine to pure Prussian blue) stands out against a startling citron background, with other yellow tones in the vase and the stand on which it rests, so it is an effect of tremendously disparate complementaries, which strengthen each other by their juxtaposition.”
Flowers in Fashion
StylePeonies are known to be the first popular flower to be printed on silk. Due to their bright colours and beautiful shape, this allowed designers to explore their designs. After the rise of these floral prints came the interest in Floral lace, which was used during the 15th century to renovate garments. They enabled designers to elaborate the edges of plain fabrics and widely became acceptable to use in the fashion industry. Thereafter the types of flowers used in design expanded, where roses, carnations sunflowers, and daises were all used and printed on different fabrics. Some were used in design patterns on items such as a brocade to even being onto wallpaper and tiles. Floral patterns were on the rise and till today are still used to help inspire fashion icons style their designs.
A list of runway pieces that incorporate floral in their work:
Prabal Gurung, spring 2020 ready-to-wear:
Prabal Gurung’s models looked like they had arrived at the show from a garden as they carried woven totes that were filled to the brim with fresh flowers.
Christian Dior, spring 2003 couture:
Giant daisies add exuberance to this John Galliano for Christian Dior look.
Alexander McQueen, spring 2007 ready-to-wear:
Tanya Dziahileva in a graceful gown made of real flowers—now that’s a grand finale.
Yves Saint Laurent, spring 1999 couture:
This Venus-inspired ensemble leaves little room for imagination, but naturally, Laetitia Casta pulls off the daring darling bride effortlessly.
Chanel, fall 2005 couture:
Here comes the bride! For the finale of his show, Karl Lagerfeld gave Solange Wilvert away on the runway. Her dreamy look included a ribbon-tied bouquet of white roses.
Food, a way of using editable flowers
These beautiful blue, star-shaped flowers from the borage plant taste a bit like cucumber, which is why they've been used in salads like this one since The Elizabethan Age. They are also delicious in lemonade and refreshing cocktails like Pimm's Cup and gin and tonic.
Known as the "poor man's saffron," the sunset-hued marigold flower really does taste like saffron when it's sautéed in olive oil to release its flavour. Here's how to make a calendula oil infusion. Uncooked marigold petals have a more subtle, slightly spicy taste and add depth to deviled eggs.
The bright yellow flowers of the courgette or zucchini plant have a delicate and slightly sweet taste. Enjoy them the classic way–stuffed with herbs and goat cheese–or on a pizza like this one, which features fresh pesto, a summertime favourite.
Both tart and sweet hibiscus petals have a cranberry-like flavour that makes them perfect for teas and cocktails. Drop fresh hibiscus buds into glasses of bubbly and let your guests watch them bloom before their eyes.
Sweet and slightly perfumed-tasting, lavender works well when the buds are sprinkled in champagne and cocktails and over desserts like chocolate cake. Or try it in a lavender peach crisp served with vanilla ice cream.