Tuesday, May 4, 2021
17C Myth - Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring by Jan Brueghel II (1601-1678) & Abraham Govaerts (1581-1642)
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) 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."2
Abraham 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.
Monday, January 6, 2014
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) The Red Cape 1902
Although this artist is famous for his highly stylized Art Nouveau illustrations, I am more attracted to a few of his powerful winter paintings & to his personal family portraits.
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Marushka, The Artist's Wife 1905
Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860-1939) was a Czech painter & decorative artist, best known for his distinct style & his images of women. He produced many paintings, illustrations, advertisements, & designs.
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Girl with Loose Hair and Tulips 1920
Mucha studied in France & was in America from 1906-1910.
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Christmas in America 1906
Mucha spent many years working on what he considered his life's fine art masterpiece, The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech & Slavic people in general, which he bestowed to the city of Prague in 1928.
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Winter Night 1920
The rising tide of fascism in the late 1930s led to Mucha's works, as well as his Slavic nationalism, being denounced in the press as "reactionary."
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Woman with a Burning Candle 1933
When German troops marched into Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1939, Mucha was among the first persons to be arrested by the Gestapo. During the course of his interrogation, the aging artist fell ill with pneumonia.
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Jaroslava and Jiri, The Artist's Children 1919
Though eventually released, he never recovered from this event or from seeing his homeland invaded & overcome. He died in Prague on 14 July 1939, of a lung infection.
Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czech artist, 1860-1939) Self Portrait