Saturday, April 18, 2015

16C Spring - A delicate personification of Flora


Francesco Melzi (fl. 1491-1570) - Flora


16C Spring - The Triumph of Flora


Master Of Flora (Italian, Fontainebleau, 2nd half of 16C - The Triumph of Flora


16C Spring - Flora by Tintoretto (1518-1594)


Tintoretto, born Jacopo Robusti (born c. 1518-1594)  - Flora.


16C Spring - Flora by Titian (1485-1576)


 Titian (1485-1576),  - Flora.


1559 Spring - Flora


 Jan Metsys (1509-1575) - Flora -1559


New England - 1629 The Native Americans


A Short and True Description of New England

by the Rev. Francis Higginson, written in 1629 
Printed for Michael Sparke, London, 1630.

Francis Higginson (1588-1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

Now I will show you a little of the inhabitants thereof, and their government.

1585 John White (English artist, c 1540-1593) Indian Manner of Fishing

For their governors they have kings, which they call saggamores, some greater, and some lesser, according to the number or their subjects. The greatest saggamores about us can not make above three hundred men, and other lesser saggamores have not above fifteen subjects, and others near about us but two.

Their subjects about twelve years since were swept away by a great and grievous plague that was amongst them, so that there are very few left to inhabit the country.
The Indians are not able to make use of the one fourth part of the land, neither have they any settled places, as towns to dwell in, nor any ground as they challenge for their own possession, but change their habitation from place to place.

For their statures, they are a tall and strong limbed people, their colors are tawny, they go naked, save only they are in part covered with beasts skins on one of their shoulders, and wear something before their privates. Their hair is generally black, and cut in front like our gentlewomen, and one lock longer than the rest, much like to our gentlemen, which fashion I think came from hence into England.

For their weapons, they have bows and arrows, some of them headed with bone, and some with brass. I have sent you some of them for an example. The men for the most part live idly, they do nothing hut hunt and fish. Their wives set their corn and do all their other work. They have little household stuff, as a kettle, and some other vessels like trays, spoons, dishes and baskets.

Their houses are very little and homely, being made with small poles pricked into the ground, and so bent and fastened at the top, and on the sides they are matted with boughs, and covered on the roof with sedge and old mats, and for their beds that they take their rest on, they have a mat.

They do generally confess to like well of our coming and planting here; partly because there is abundance of ground that they cannot possess nor make use of, and partly because our being here will be a means both of relief to them when they want, and also a defense from their enemies, wherewith (I say) before this plantation began, they were often endangered.

For their religion, they do worship two gods: a good god and an evil god. The good god they call Tantum, and their evil god, whom they fear will do them hurt, they call Squantum.
For their dealing with us, we neither fear them nor trust them, for forty of our musketeers will drive five hundred of them out of the field. We use them kindly: they will come into our houses sometimes by half a dozen or half a score at a time when we are at victuals, but will ask or take nothing but what we give them.

We propose to learn their language as soon as we can, which will be a means to do them good.


1590s Spring - Flora


 Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Milan, 1526-1593) Flora 1590 The artist created these 2 heads & busts from flowers, small animals & other natural elements, carefully chosen & relating to the subject, but recognizable close up


Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Milan, 1526-1593) Flora 1589


1697 Spring - Flora, Goddess of Flowers


Luca Giordano & Andrea Belvedere, Flora, Goddess of Flowers, Ca. 1697

"In ancient mythology, there was a god & goddess for everything; anything from the generic deity above all others to love to home life...One mythology painting is from the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Spain. The Goddess Flora (La Diosa Flora), Luca Giordano & Andrea Belvedere, c. 1697... 

"Luca Giordano was considered a very popular Spanish painter within the Spanish court under Charles II. While, Andrea Belvedere, who lived in Spain from c. 1694 to c. 1700 was believed to be called from his home in Naples, Italy, by Giordano himself, to paint for the Spanish court. The work is supposedly one of several collaborations between Giordano (who painted the goddess Flora & the seated women) & Belvedere (who executed all the intricate flowers)... 


"The Goddess Flora...depicts the goddess sitting on a raised throne surrounded by 4 women, with whom she shares various, colorful flowers. These are taken from a massive, overflowing cornucopia in her left arm...


"All 5 women are dressed mostly in “classical”clothing, but have touches of contemporary pieces...The maiden to Flora’s right wears a simple string of pearls around her neck; & another maiden has a pair of pearl, teardrop-shaped earrings on. Compared to the muted tones of the clothing of the 5 women, the flowers are vibrantly painted & dominate the color scheme of the whole piece...The flowers easily show us the contrasts in the styles of Giordano & Belvedere.


"The 4 women, whose dresses are of completely different colors, together as a group may, in theory, represent the “Four Seasons”. The woman on the right of Flora wears a garland of flowers in her hair & another woman, to Flora’s left, gathers a rather large bundle of flowers. They easily could represent Spring & Summer. Yet another woman is in a rust-colored dress...would be Autumn. Finally, the last woman with no flowers could be Winter.


"Paintings like this were a favorite subject of art commissioned for royalty all over the world, as a passion for the story; as much as, the use of that myth to elevate themselves as divinely-appointed rulers..." 


Posted 13th February 2013 by Christopher M. Hammel
The "Unofficial" Blog of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)


We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the prints by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn on the other side of the Atlantic during the early years of the English colonization of America. 

Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Ornatus Muliebris Anglicanus; Print made by 1640. British Library. An English lady standing full-length to left, with head turned to look to right; wearing pearl bracelets.

The artist Hollar was born in 1607, the son of an upper middle-class civic official. He left his native Prague at age 20. He was almost blind in one eye but became a skilled artist. His 1st book of etchings was published in 1635, in Cologne, when Hollar was 28. The following year his work caught they eye of English art collector the Earl of Arundel who visiting the continent.  Hollar became a part of his household, settling in England early in 1637. He left London for Antwerp in 1642, where he continued to work on a variety of projects for 10 years.  In 1652, he returned to England, working on a number of large projects for the publishers John Ogilby & William Dugdale. Hollar died in London in1677. By his life's end, he had produced nearly 3000 separate etchings.


Jan Brueghel II, (1601-1678) & Abraham Govaerts (1581-1642) present Flora seated surrounded by flowers


Jan Brueghel II, (1601-1678) and Abraham Govaerts (1581-1642) Flora Seated in a Wooded Landscape Surrounded by Flowers

Here, Flora, the ancient Italian goddess of flowers, is draped in luxurious cream & scarlet robes & contrasting with the blue landscape behind her. Set in a secluded wooded clearing filled with an astonishing variety of wild flowers, the classical subject matter blends with Flemish realism in the 2 rustic huts depicted on the hill at the right.

Flora is framed by flowers. At her left side, rests a myriad of luscious pink roses, narcissi, buttercups, violas, primroses & poppies; while on her other side, tulips & bluebells mingle together. Nestled in the lush grass next to a wicker basket overflowing with blooms are 2 small rabbits. Throughout the ages the rabbit has been a symbol of fertility & lust. Perhaps these rabbits allude to the licentious nature of Flora’s ancient Roman festival, the Floralia which was held in April & included theatrical entertainment featuring naked women. 

Both Ovid & Lucretius describe the goddess Flora in their works. Lucretius, in his explanation of the origins of nature, De Rerum Natura, describes how Flora followed in the footsteps of Zephyr (the east wind) in the spring time, strewing his way with blossoms.1  Ovid, from whom Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) later drew inspiration for his Primavera (Uffizi Gallery, Florence), tells of Flora fleeing from Zephyr: "When he at length embraced her, flowers spilled from her lips; & she was transformed into Flora."

Breughel II trained in the studio of his father & subsequently journeyed to Milan to meet his father’s patron Cardinal Federico Borromeo. Traveling to Sicily with Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) in 1624, he joined the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke the following year. As well as working with Govaerts, he also collaborated with Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) & Hendrick van Balen (1575-1632).

Govaerts’ paintings typically incorporate mythological or biblical subjects within a mannerist landscape. Figures, in this case flowers, were often added by other artists.  Brueghel II & Govaerts frequently collaborated on works, particularly those with mythological subject matter. Govaerts arranged the landscape, & Jan Brueghel II painted the flowers. The tradition of lush flower painting was established by Brueghel II’s father, Jan Brueghel I (1568-1625).

¹ Lucretius, De Rerum Natura V.736-739.
² Ovid, Fasti V.193-214. 

See original article plus more information here.


Morning Madonna


Unknown Master, German (active around 1420 in Westphalia). Virgin and Child with Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring 16C


Spring by Jacob Matham (Dutch artist, 1571-1631)


12 Amazing Views of the 18C Gardens at Herrenhausen in Germany



The Great Garden at Herrenhausen about 1708

In 1636, the German Count of Calenberg established a country estate in Herrenhausen, from which the city of Hannover was supplied with produce. From 1674 onwards, the estate was enlarged to serve as a summer residence. In 1680, Count Ernst August took over as head of state. Deeming it opportune to have a dwelling commensurate with his political standing and ambitions, in 1690 he commissioned work to turn the estate into a palace for which he, himself, drafted the plans. 

 A Front View of the Palace.  View of a building with a triangular pediment and coat of arms over the entrance, behind a wall with gates set between four pillars, seen from a paved walk with lawns either side lined with trees, where people walk, two gardeners talk to left and a few men approach on horseback.  From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London

The plans called for a central structure to be symmetrically flanked by four other buildings. With the count's death in 1697, construction work abruptly ceased. In the same year, Sophia (Electress of Hanover), commissioned the French gardener Martin Charbonnier with the expansion of the baroque garden (now known as the "Great Garden"). Despite extensive renovation in 1704, the palace's basic layout remains unchanged to this day. 

A View of the Amphitheatre as it fronts the Natural Theatre.  View of a small amphitheatre formed of two sets of three broad grassy steps, enclosed by a tall box hedge, with tall trees set in a semi-circle on the steps creating natural pillars, and classical statues on pedestals between them, with people walking in the foreground. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London

From 1714 on, the Electorate of Hanover was joined in a "personal union" with the Kingdom of Great Britain. The electors from Hannover resided in Great Britain as kings and often spent the summer at Herrenhausen Palace, for which purpose the palace and the gardens were well attended to until the Seven Years' War put an abrupt end to this. Maintenance work reduced to a bare minimum until 1814, at which time the Kingdom of Hannover was established. In 1819, the palace was redesigned in the Neoclassical style by court architect Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves.


A View of the Grand Cascade in ye Royal Garden.  View of a large cascade with water flowing in four streams over steps between arched niches, two containing classical statues, into a shallow basin, with statues in a row along the low balustrade on the top and flights of steps curving down either tide to the lawn where people walk, an ordered forest in the background to right and the corner of a single storey building of the same height as the cascade to left.  From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



Entry into the Grand Middle Walk of the Royal Garden.  View looking down over ornamental gardens composed of potted plants and small sections enclosed with low hedges, with a large fountain in the middle distance, smaller ones set out at the corners of a hexagon around it, and two pagodas either side in the distance, fronted by a trellis divided by pillars forming a screen with three openings, and people walking. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



Front of the Grand Gallery towards ye Gardens.  View of a building with a mansard roof, dormer windows and porch with a triangular pediment, and people walking in a garden in front of it with a fountain and rows of small potted firs, enclosed by a hedge with tall trees behind it. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



Front of the Grotto towards the Royal Garden.  View of a building with a colonnaded roof terrace, an arched doorway, two protruding wings and flights of steps running up on either side, men and women walking, and trees in the background to left. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



 The Cascade behind the Theatre.  View of an ornamental cascade; water flowing from three arched niches and two large shells held by water gods either side, with rows of firs, classical statues and box hedges on the level above, and flights of steps curving down on either side to the foreground, where people walk. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



The First Grand Cross Walk & after your Entrance into ye Royal Garden.  View along a walk with a large round fountain in the centre, lined by small trees trimmed into cones interspersed with classical urns and statues set on pedestals, small rectangular gardens enclosed in low hedges beyond and rows of trees along the horizon, with people walking. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London 



The Theatre.  View of a rectangular space, raised with a short flight of steps leading up to it, enclosed by rows of tall box hedges with classical statues set on pedestals in each opening, a man striking an attitude on the stage produced and men and women talking at the foot fo the steps. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



The Walk which surrounds the Royal Garden.  View of a paved walk lined with fir trees interspersed with small bushes trimmed to tall cones, a domed pagoda at the end, and men and women walking. From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London



Two Summer Rooms one towards the Grand Gallery the other towards the Cascade.  View of a summer pagoda with a round archway topped by a triangular pediment and two small balustraded wings, people sitting inside and walking outside, the interior walls painted with scenes of crowds greeting a man on horseback, and tall hedges behind.  From Twelve Principal Views of Herrenhausen; artist Johann Sebastian Müller & publisher Robert Sayer; 1751-52; London


Finally, even in the 18C Americas, flowers get proper, scientific names & become status symbols


During & immediately after the Revolution, many gardeners in the early American republic began banishing intricate patterns of flowers in favor of the less ostentatious simplicity of turf. Philadelphian Elizabeth Drinker wrote in her diary, “flower roots…were dug out of ye beds on ye south side of our garden--as my husband intends making grass-plots and planting trees.”

During this period, plain grass flats often defined the terraces of the gentry. However, at the same time, a flood of newly arrived professional seed merchants were enticing the growing gardening public to plant curious bulbs & roots imported from Europe. And the middle class merchants and artisans were beginning to accumulate both leisure time that could be spent in improving their homes and grounds and a bit of extra cash to spend toward this end.  This flurry of marketing paid off, and the style that caught on. By the 1790s, specimen gardens & flowers once again flourished in the Chesapeake.

By the turn of the century, the popularity of intricate flower beds once again soared.  Flowers remained a garden favorite, but gardeners now tended to segregated flowers by type rather than integrating them into a complicated design.  Diarist Anne Grant reported that, in the gardens she saw before the Revolution, flowers “not seen in ‘curious knots’, were ranged in beds, the varieties of each kind by themselves.”

In the 2nd half of 18C America, small private & public botanical gardens were beginning to appear in the colonies & early Republic.  The public was becoming more familiar with the study of botany.  They were aware of the concept of botanical gardens which were the most structured way of observing plants where similar plants were grown & displayed together, often arranged by plant families, & labeled for easy reference.


The Paduan Garden, in Roberto de Visiani’s L’Orto Botanico de Padova nell’ anno MDCCCXLII (Padova, 1842, frontis.).

The great age of plant discovery which began in the 16C with the exploration of the Americas triggered an interest in the scientific study & classification of plants. The plants & seeds which made their way to Europe from foreign ports were cultivated to determine their potential uses. At first this was chiefly to determine their potential medical applications.  The great botanical gardens founded in the 16C at Padua, Leiden, & Montpellier were attached to medical schools.


Johannes van Meurs, 1579-16 Leiden University Garden. Engraving after a design by W. Swanenburgh (1608), from Orlers (1614).

The Hortus Botanicus in Leiden was established soon after the founding of the university in 1575. The head of the early garden there was Charles de l’Ecluse (1526–1609) or Clusius, who had a wide network of correspondents across Europe & had written extensively on botanical subjects. In 1593, he brought with him from Frankfurt a great number of seeds, bulbs & plants to form the foundation of the garden, which had about 1,000 plants when it opened. Other distinguished botanists associated with the garden were Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738) & Johannes Fredericus Gronovius (1686–1762), an early patron of Carolus Linnaeus(Carl Linnaeus, Swedish Carl von Linné) 1707-1778, who would transform plant collecting with his uniform system for classifying them (binomial nomenclature).


Oxford Botanic Garden

The Oxford Botanic Garden was founded in 1623, by Henry Danvers, later the 1st Earl of Danby (1573–1643), but was not planted until at least a decade later. Danby had arranged to appoint the great London-based gardener & plant collector John Tradescant the elder (1570-1638) as the first gardener, & there is some evidence that Tradescant may have been briefly involved in the planting before he died. Danby then appointed the German botanist Jacob Bobart (1599–1680) as gardener, who was succeeded by his son, also named Jacob Bobart (1641–1719). The 1st catalogue, listing some 1400 plants growing in the garden, was published in 1648.


Chelsea Physic Garden established in the grounds of Chelsea Manor owned by Hans Sloane. Engraving by John Haynes, 30th March 1751.

In England, the Chelsea Physic Garden, founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673, came to prominence under Scottish gardener Philip Miller (1691-1771) & remained the premier garden in the country during much of Miller’s lifetime. Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) had granted the Society a perpetual lease on the Chelsea property, & one of the conditions was that each year 50 new plants were to be described & donated to the Royal Society as dried specimens. This required the continuous introduction of new plants & ensured that Chelsea was at the forefront of knowledge about their cultivation. Miller was a highly skilled horticulturist & many imported plants & rare species of indigenous plants were successfully grown by him at Chelsea. Miller  networked, & he was at the center of a vast network of plant enthusiasts exchaning plants & seeds with other gardeners throughout Britain, her colonies, & Europe.


 Pagoda & Temperate House, Kew Gardens

As Chelsea was fading in the latter part of the 18C, the great gardens at Kew were growing in importance under the leadership of Sir Joseph Banks & head gardener William Aiton (1731–1793) who had trained under Philip Miller at Chelsea. Aiton produced the 1st printed catalogue of the gardens at Kew, listing some 5600 species. Just over two decades later, the 2nd edition of the catalogue by his son William Townsend Aiton (1766–1849) listed over 11,000 species.


In London, street vendors were selling plants door to door. New Cries of London Sold by Darton and Harvey 1803 Flowers for your Garden

In Philadelphia, Bartram's is America's oldest surviving botanic garden. John Bartram (1699-1777), early American botanist, explorer, & plant collector, began his garden in 1728, when he purchased a 102-acre farm close to Germantown. Bartram's Garden grew into an extensive collection of familiar & intriguing native plants; as he devoted his life to the discovery of examples of new North American species. Bartram's lucrative business centered on the transatlantic transfer of plants.

In 1748, what is now Lafayette & Astor Place, was New York City’s first botanical garden, established by a Swiss physician, Jacob Sperry, who farmed flowers & hothouse plants. Jacob Sperry, born in Zurich in 1728, came to New York at the age of 20, & although educated a physician, decided to become a florist. He had means at his command, with which he purchased this then uncultivated tract of pasture land, & established himself as a horticulturist. He built a house near by, where he resided, rearing a family of 4 sons & 5 daughters. In 1804, Jacob Sperry sold the much improved property to John Jacob Astor for $45,000.


An 1801 map of the Astor Place when it was the land of Jacob Sperry, a Swiss florist, physician, and gentleman.

In the British American colonies, just as in Europe, many early botanical gardens focused on the medicinal uses of plants being collected.  In 1769, Dr Peter Middleton, professor of medicine at King's College, speaking at the opening of the Columbia Medical School in New York City stated, "By botany, we are  instructed in the natural history and distinguishing characters of plants. This, pursued as a science, or branch of medical study, presents to us a fund of knowledge, both valuable and ornamental  As this continent yields most of the medical plants now in use, and abounds also with a variety of others, whose qualities we are as  yet but little acquainted with... a teacher of botany will soon be appointed, and a botanical garden laid out, and properly furnished? This would open an extensive field for further discoveries in, and for large acquisitions to the materia medicia."  David Hosack, who would eventually establish the Elgin Botanic Garden, reported that in 1794, the New York Agricultural Society was endorsing that the botanical garden be connected with an endowed professorship in Botany.  In the next 20 years, botanical gardens would pop up at Harvard, Princeton, and at the universities of Pennsylvania & South Carolina.


 Botanic Garden at Elgin in the Vicinity of the City of New York. About 1806 William Satchwell Leney (American artist, b. England, 1769–1831) after Louis Simond (American artist, b. France, 1767–1831)

By 1785, George Washington had dedicated a part of his gardens to botany.  He wrote in his July diary, "Sewed one half of the Chinese Seed given me by Mr. Porter and Doctr. Craik in three rows in the Section near the Quarter (in my Botanical Garden.)"  In June of the next year, Washington recorded dining with Francois Andre Micheaux, "a Botanist sent by the Court of France to America...he returned afterwards to Alexandria on his way to New York...where he was about to establish a Botanical Garden."

In 1787, Rev Manassah Cutler wrote that Dr Benjamin Rush was "endeavoring to raise a fund for establishing a Botanical garden" in Philadelphia.

In both England & in the early American republic, botany & new classification systems for plants caused a surge in collecting plants. In 1789, William Hamilton instructed the gardeners at his Philadelphia estate, Woodlands, to plant “exotic bulbous roots…at six or eight Inches from each other…taking care to preserve the distinctions of the sorts.”


18C woodcut

In 1805, Rosalie Steir Calvert (1778–1821) wrote to her father from Riversdale in Prince George's County, Maryland, "The fancy for flowers of all kinds is really increasing; everyone takes an interest, and it is a great honor to have the most beautiful.”

The next spring, she was “curious to know if it is becoming fashionable in your country to become horticulturalists. Here we occupy ourselves with that more every day and are getting much better.”

Her father sent tulip bulbs in late 1807, and Rosalie Calvert wrote back, “now I will have the most beautiful collection in America, and I assure you my reputation is already quite exalted.”


In London, street vendors were selling plants door to door.  Tuer, Andrew White, 1838-1900 Old London street cries (1885) All a Blowin', Choice Shrubs and Plants, Alive and Growing

In the early republic, townsfolk began to frequent the local nurseries popping up in towns up and down the Atlantic coast.  A new cycle in English & early American pleasure gardening had begun.


In London, street vendors were selling plants door to door.  London Melodies; or Cries of the Seasons. Published anonymously (before 1818) All a Blowin, Choice Shrubs and Plants, Alive and Growing


The British Herbal, botanicals by artist John Edwards, published in 1770.





























See Colonial Williamsburg here.