Flowers and Floral landscapes have meanings and symbolism in just about all cultures and historical periods. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they are so often reflected in art, and there are endless flower paintings that are widely recognized today. Many famous painters made flower paintings a significant part of their portfolio, and their flower art often helped define their legacies.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a painter from the mid-1800 impressionist movement, chose flowers as the subject for many of his paintings. Renoir did his study and painting in Paris, and his work was often an experiment with landscapes and outdoor scenes of Parisian daily life. His focus was often on trying to paint by using light in new ways, which appears in his paintings of roses, chrysanthemums, and other spring flowers, which still stands as some of his most famous work
Renoir was friends with fellow impressionist painter Claude Monet, who set the standard for impressionism flower paintings. Iris, water lilies, and flowers in ponds and gardens at Giverny appeared on canvas like never had before when Monet found his true inspiration. In fact as he matured, Monet focused so much on floral art that he invested more and more time in gardening so that it grew more colorful flowers as subjects. Claude Monet’s flower art is likely the most famous in the world.
Henri Matisse is yet another French artist who had a broad range of interest, subject and works, but often gravitated to beauty and nature. He was influenced by Monet and other impressionist painters, and incorporated some of this form into his own style of beautiful colors with broad strokes.
Art from Matisse varies from females to still life, but flower paintings from Matisse are also highlighted in his portfolio. “Still Life with Magnolia” typifies the simple, colorful, unique style of Matisse.
No discussion of flower paintings is complete without the impact made by Vincent Van Gogh on the world of impressionist art. Van Gogh brought his own bursts of color and style, mainly in daring outdoor or landscape painting, often including flowers.
However there is one floral varietal most associated to Van Gogh: sunflowers. His stunning collection of sunflower paintings is world recognized, which almost treat each flower as it's owns subject. In these paintings there is an emphasis on the pure brilliance and sensory joy of the blooms in his paintings.
An American icon, Georgia O'Keefe is a 20th century artist who partly defined her works through realistic flower paintings, usually close ups of flowers such as roses and iris, emphasizing colors as purples and pinks. Her tendency towards oversized flower works, showing the details of the petals, pistils, and interior tend to convey symbolism, and have a show her unique style.