[layerslider id="15"]

Flowers accompany people all their lives – in paintings too

Since ancient times, almost all the nations of the world decided to meet and accompany flowers, use them for decoration in especially important cases. In addition to practical use, flowers have become symbols and expression of feelings. In different cultures and at different times, the meanings with which flowers were endowed changed.

Florosymbolics is often found in the Bible. Thus, the image of paradise appears in the form of a secret and wonderful ever-flowering garden. One of the biblical legends tells of a lily grown out of tears shed by Eve after being expelled from Eden. In many writings on the theme of the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel approaches the Virgin Mary, holding in his hands this magnificent plant. The oldest of the cultivated flowers – snow-white lily, found in nature in Libya, Palestine and Syria – has long been worshiped by Jews as a symbol of integrity. In Europe in the Middle Ages, she began to personify purity, innocence, high origin. The exquisite flowers of the lily of the valley (English Lilies of the valley), according to Christian legend, are called “the tears of the Mother of God”: the tears shed by the Virgin on the Holy Cross turned into fragile tender bells. In Western Europe, lilies of the valley can be given for mothers. From the ancient Russian legend about the Novgorod merchant Sadko we learn that these flowers have sprung from tears of the sea princess he rejected. According to another legend, drops of blood turned into lilies of the valley (remember their bright red round berries with seeds), spilled by Saint George in the battle with the dragon.

Acquired and ascribed to them meanings and properties firmly entrenched with many flowers: red rose – passionate love; Fleur d’Orange – chastity of the bride; forget-me-not – constancy. People endow the flowers with mystical qualities, like a magical fern flower that blooms only once a year – on the night of Ivan Kupala, illuminating everything around with a blinding light, and fulfills the cherished desires of someone who finds it. The original, unique “external data” of hyacinth, peony, narcissus is perpetuated in spectacular ancient allegories.

In the XVI – XVII centuries in Europe there was an unprecedented interest in flowers, which were cultivated everywhere

The rapid development of botany began, and botanical gardens began to appear. Europeans were especially attracted by exotic varieties that began to be actively imported from different parts of the world by travelers. The aristocracy and the merchants of Italy, France, Flanders collected rare varieties of flowers, the price of which sometimes was equal to the value of precious stones.

Of course, this could not find reflection in art. The keen interest in the achievements of science and in the new for Europeans varieties of flowers was the impetus for the emergence of the genre of flower still life.

The aristocracy wanted to perpetuate a particular sort of rare flower, so artists often received orders for floral still lifes. In general, flowers in the European painting of the XVII century were very popular. Although their function on the canvases rarely carried a mythological or religious meaning, it was mostly decorative.

Botanical riddles from 17th century paintings

The rose is one of the colors most often depicted in painting and literature. To tell about the rose, about all the legends and traditions associated with it, it will take a lot of time and at least a hundred pages of written text, so let’s look at the XVII century. A little earlier, starting from the 16th century, Holland became the flower center of Europe. It is here that industrial production of flowers, designed not only for cultivation in gardens, but also for creating bouquets, buttonholes, and flower garlands, begins to emerge. This trend is reflected in art. Dutch artists often in still lifes use the plot with lush bouquets of flowers. And at this time, the rose presents another surprise mystery. On still lifes we can see luxurious lush roses, consisting of hundreds of petals, for which they get their name – Centifolia roses, literally – “table”. This abundance of petals gave rise to another, more mundane name – “Cabbage Rose” (Cabbage Rose).

The appearance of these roses seems to be not accidental, because they miraculously correspond to the style and fashion of that era. How organically combines the abundance of petals, tightly filling the center of the flower, with numerous folds on the collars that are fashionable at the time (“millstones”)! There is a feeling as if they were created by the same master. Many experts believe that this variety of roses brought Dutch gardeners. During these years, they were already engaged in the selection of tulips, hyacinths, carnations, and created new varieties.

The fashion for flowers did not stand still and a new trend appeared in the painting – portraits and scenes in flower garlands

Over time, the idea of ​​”vanitas” penetrated into the flower still life, suggested by the transience of the flower itself. And in the festoons framing various gospel scenes representing Christ, Madonna or saints, the flowers were endowed with religious meaning. Such works are usually intended to decorate Catholic churches.

On the canvas from the ASG Large Collection of Fine Arts “Bearing the Cross” by Italian artist Giovanni Stanci, on the left, Jesus Christ is depicted, crouching under the weight of his burden, and on the right is knee-down Veronica, wiping the sweat from his face with his handkerchief, on which the face of Christ miraculously imprinted . This scene is enclosed in an octagon, framed by a variety of flowers, among which are roses, irises, loaches, daffodils, tulips, lilies, sunflowers, poppies, anemones. The latter, by the way, appeared in Europe in the 17th century. There was even a special sign – if you attach an anemone flower to clothes, it will save you from all sorts of ills and ills.

The ASG Grand Collection of Fine Arts stores the painting of the Flemish painter Frans Aikens “The Virgin with the Baby”. In the center is the Virgin Mary, in whose arms is the infant Christ. In the left part there is an angel crowning Jesus with a wreath of flowers. The oval composition is framed by a wreath of flowers and fruits. The modern viewer again has an excellent opportunity to admire the vintage variety of roses depicted at the top of the picture. At the bottom of the same various fruits: apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, lemon, grapes, cherries, figs.

The ASG Grand Collection of Fine Arts contains the “Woman’s Portrait in a Flower Garland” of a 17th-century Flemish school. The canvas depicts a woman in a dark low-cut dress that props her head with her hand. In the background – the landscape. The portrait is enclosed in an oval flower garland, which depicts antique roses.

Flowers of tulips unexpectedly turned out different colors

Not only gardeners began to grow tulips, but almost all the inhabitants of Holland: some of the desire to possess a new variety in their collection, but most of them to get rich. At the same time, they were selling each other receipts for the receipt of a not yet grown onion of an unrequited new variety. These receipts are resold to each other. There were up to ten million “tulip” receipts walking around. Huge money paid for new varieties of tulips with beautiful or original colors of flowers, and in the absence of them they paid for things, products, houses.

For the bulb “Semper Augustus” 13 thousand guilders were paid (the guilder was equal to two rubles). Twenty-four-quarters of wheat, forty-eight-quarters of rye, four fat bulls, eight pigs, twelve sheep, two barrels of wine, four barrels of beer, two barrels of oil, four pounds of cheese, a bundle of dress and one silver cup were paid for the vice king. For a bulb of the third grade they gave a carriage and a pair of horses.

An old engraving depicting a “Hood” tulip of white color with red divorces has been preserved. This tulip cost 1500 guilders, which is indicated in the engraving.

In Amsterdam, a stone slab was preserved on Goor Street for a long time, on which it was carved that two stone houses standing here were bought in 1634 for three tulip bulbs.

As a result of insane enthusiasm for speculation with tulips, the ruin of most of the Dutch merchants and the stagnation in trade began. This caused the issuance of a law prohibiting the “exchange game” tulips. However, the Dutch did not stop the cultivation of tulips. They continued to be interested in this flower and display more and more new varieties. In history, there is a great festival in the city of Gaarlem in 1673 on the occasion of the black tulip. A. Dumas wrote the novel “Black Tulip”, which is dedicated to this event.

It turned out that, three hundred years later, Darwin wrote, tulips grown from seed on dry and poor soil produced new varieties with variegated and spotted flowers. On the highly fertilized soil turned tulips delicate monochromatic color. The Dutch poured over the earth with solutions of different colors, wanting to get different colors of flowers, but without success. There are cases of splicing halves and quarters of different bulbs. It was a kind of unconscious vegetative, hybridization. At that time, they did not know the meaning of pollination and did not know how to produce crossing by artificial pollination. But large-grown tulips were cross-pollinated with insects, and the sown seeds unexpectedly gave new varieties of flowers, the bulbs of which were picked for sale.