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From Botany to Bouquets: Flowers in Northern Art
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.
The artists who created the flower still lifes included here conveyed the delicacy of blossoms and captured the fragile beauty of flowers and the sense of hope and joy they represent. The great appeal of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish flower still lifes, however, stems not only from their lifelike qualities but also from the fascinating philosophical issues they raise about the relationship of art to nature, to poetry, and to life itself. From Botany to Bouquets examines the origins of flower painting with a selection of botanical treatises, manuscripts, and watercolors by 16th- and 17th-century printmakers and draftsmen. It also addresses questions about flower symbolism, including religious concepts and the transitory nature of life. By introducing such spiritual ideals and moral concerns into their works, these painters placed their still lifes within a broad, humanistic context, which they achieved with great enthusiasm, dignity, and intelligence.