Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Fine Arts and Flowers

I spent some time today at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts enjoying the exhibit "Fine Arts and Flowers." The Council of VMFA is presenting this program in which members of the Garden Club of Virginia, Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs, and Garden Clubs of Virginia have created floral designs inspired by works of art from the VMFA's permanent collections. The exhibit is free and open to the public through Sunday, November 9. Here is a sneak peek . . . 

Franz Kline
American, 1910 - 1962
Untitled, 1955
Commercial oil-based paint on canvas
Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis 85.415
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

People sometimes think I take a white canvas and paint a black sign on it, but this is not true. I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important. - Franz Kline

Inspired by Untitled by Franz Kline.
Floral design by Nancy Lee Martin - Pamunkey River Garden Club.
Henrico, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Thomas Gainsborough
English, 1727 - 1788
The Charleton Children (also known as Showing the Way), 18th century
Oil on canvas.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Collection 49.11.34
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia 
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

Inspired by The Charleton Children by Thomas Gainsborough
Floral design by Sally Harrison - River Road Garden Club
Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)


Detail from The Charleton Children (also known as Showing the Way), 18th century
 Thomas Gainsborough
Oil on canvas.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Collection 49.11.34
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"This portrait shows Robert and Susannah, the children of Gainsborough's friend and doctor, Mr. Rice Charleton, as the artist first encountered them on a visit to Charleton's country home at Woodhouse Down, near Bristol. Robert's outstretched arm points the artist toward his destination and highlights for the viewer the idyllic beauty of the river valley below. The children's rosy cheeks and white gowns attest to their innocence, a popular convention among child portraiture."
 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Detail from The Charleton Children (also known as Showing the Way), 18th century
 Thomas Gainsborough
Oil on canvas
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Collection 49.11.34
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"Prior to the 18th century, childhood was rarely thought of as a distinct phase of life; children were considered adults in miniature, and their education and introduction to society were conducted as such. Enlightenment philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, however, proposed that childhood was a separate and important phase of development in which children should be allowed to learn by expressing their natural and childlike tendencies, free of the strictures of adult society. In this portrait Gainsborough emphasizes these characteristics by showing the blissful children in a peaceful, natural setting."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Andre Lhote
French, 1885 - 1962
Riverbank, 1912
Oil on canvas
Gift of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr. 2011.508
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"By 1912 many avant-garde artists across Europe had internalized the Cubist concepts of multiple viewpoints, a flattened sense of space, and fragmented distortions of form. Riverbank dates from Lhote's early connection with other French Cubists such as Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp, and Fernand Leger. While the trees and sky are recognizable within the picture, the balance and harmony of the composition as a whole takes precedence over naturalistic representation. Rhythmic alternation between light and dark areas unifies the image, and the undulating forms of the trees add dynamic contrast."
 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Inspired by Au Bord de la Riviere - Riverbank by Andre Lhote
Floral design by Barbara Dillard, Mary Kendall - Midlothian Garden Club
Midlothian, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Here are the two compositions side-by-side:


Jean Lurcat
French, 1892 - 1966
Wind and Blue Sky, 1930
Oil on canvas
T. Catesby Jones Collection, 47.10.40
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"Between the two world wars, Lurcat worked as a painter, draftsman, printmaker, and designer of textiles and tapestries. His diverse body of work displays a strong sense of color and abstract form and ranges from lyrical or dreamlike expressions to social and political commentaries.
During the 1920s critics extolled Lurcat's depopulated, mysterious landscapes for their balance of decorative subtlety and otherworldly poetry. This poignant image has no precise narrative. The motif is a grouping of objects that indicate a previous human presence. These remnants of civilization have been arranged into a cross shape, suggesting the sacrifice and pathos of crucifixion."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

This painting reminds me of Billy Budd by Herman Melville and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge - "instead of the cross, the Albatross about my neck was hung."

Inspired by Wind and Blue Sky by Jean Lurcat
Floral design by Elizabeth  Burgess - Salisbury Garden Club
Midlothian, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Inspired by Chinese Funerary Couch - Artist Unknown
Floral design by Rita Johnson - Chester Garden Club, Chesterfield
Richmond Designers Guild
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Funerary Couch, early 6th century
Chinese, Northern Wei dynasty
Limestone with carved and painted design
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 2005 7a-h
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"Imitating wooden household furniture, this stone couch is a rare example of what was used as a platform for supporting a coffin in the burial chamber of a tomb. The design and function of the couch reflect the ancient Chinese belief in immortality, which was popular in early 6th-century China.
These iconographic details have integrated Chinese tradition and Central Asian elements. The front panels of this couch feature painted towers and a wall, as if leading through the entranceway to a private property. Details include molded roof tiles and painted designs of wooden frames and brackets, representing Chinese architectural components of the period." 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Funerary Couch, early 6th century
Chinese, Northern Wei dynasty
Limestone with carved and painted design
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 2005 7a-h
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"The baseboard and legs are carved with mythological animals including a dragon, the Wind Spirit, and the Thunder Spirit."
 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Inspired by Chinese Funerary Couch - Artist Unknown
Floral design by Rita Johnson - Chester Garden Club, Chesterfield
Richmond Designers Guild
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Issac Soreau
Flemish, 1604 - after 1638
Still Life with Grapes, Flowers and Berries in a Wanli Bowl, ca. 1620
Oil on wood
Museum Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 84.78
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"In religious paintings of the 1400s and 1500s, flowers, fruits, and other objects often held symbolic meaning. However, in the 1600s still lifes of flowers and fruits became a more secular and important kind of painting."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Issac Soreau
Flemish, 1604 - after 1638
Detail from Still Life with Grapes, Flowers and Berries in a Wanli Bowl, ca. 1620
Oil on wood
Museum Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 84.78
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"In religious paintings of the 1400s and 1500s, flowers, fruits, and other objects often held symbolic meaning. However, in the 1600s still lifes of flowers and fruits became a more secular and important kind of painting."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

 
Inspired by Still Life with Grapes. Flowers and Berries in a Wanli Bowl by Issac Soreau
Floral design by Lorraine Van Wickler and Dody Douglas - Chesapeake Bay Garden Club
Ophelia, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Indian, Gandhara, Peshawar District, near Mardan (present-day Pakistan)
Seated Buddha, 2nd - 3rd century
Dark gray schist
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 2002.556
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"Behind this Buddha's serene face is an intensity of meditative concentration that emerges in the flamelike waves of hair climbing over his ushnisha, the cranial protuberance that signifies his superhuman wisdom. Other standard Indian iconographic conventions include the Buddha's elongated earlobes, stretched by the heavy gold earrings he wore before renouncing worldly luxuries, and a circular mark or urna between his eyes that symbolizes his extraordinary insight. This Buddha's now-broken right hand would have been held in a gesture (mudra) of reassurance. His left hand gathers a piece of his outer garment, the hem of which cascades into the plinth below him. The confidently rendered folds of his togalike robes reveal Greek and Roman influence on the art of Gandhara. Buddha images in this hybrid style would become one of India's most significant artistic exports, providing the earliest models for a long tradition of imagery in Central and East Asia."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Frank Lloyd Wright
American, 1867 - 1959
Made by Linden Glass Company
American (Chicago, Illinois), 1890 - 1934
Two Windows (for Avery Coonley Playhouse, Riverside, Illinois), 1912
Stained and leaded glass
Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis 85.348.1-2
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

Inspired by Two Windows by Frank Lloyd Wright
Floral design by Elaine Abbott and Jo Hanny - Williamsburg Garden Club
Williamsburg, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Frank Lloyd Wright
American, 1867 - 1959
Made by Linden Glass Company
American (Chicago, Illinois), 1890 - 1934
Two Windows (for Avery Coonley Playhouse, Riverside, Illinois), 1912
Stained and leaded glass
Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis 85.348.1-2
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"Ornamental glass elements in windows and doors played a major role in Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural decoration, enhancing the appearance of a room's size and affecting its mood and focal points. These glass windows, stained in bright, primary colors, are part of a larger set made for the Avery Coonley Playhouse. The bright circles and squares most likely stemmed from Wright's childhood excitement of playing with colorful maple blocks and cardboard cutouts of circles and squares, and evoked memories of lively parades with flags, balloons, and confetti."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Anna Hyatt Huntington
American, 1876 - 1973
Fawns Playing, modeled 1934, cast 1936
Aluminum
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Thalhimer, 2006.31
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen

"As the leading animalier of 20th-century America, Anna Hyatt was a well-known sculptor long before her 1923 marriage to Archer Huntington - railroad heir and son of Arabella Worsham (whose Gilded Age bedroom is featured in a nearby gallery). She trained with sculptor Gutzon Borglum, later of Mount Rushmore fame, and studied in France and Italy. In the 1910s and 1920s, Huntington garnered awards and recognition both in the United States and abroad. Resisting new modernist trends, she maintained a naturalistic approach in her portrayals of wild and domestic animals. In 1934, she completed her first version of Fawn Playing in bronze. Two years later she recast in aluminum, a favorite medium.
During the 1930s, Huntington and her husband established Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina - a nature conservancy and America's first sculpture garden. Shortly thereafter, Archer Huntington founded the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, which features several of his wife's monumental outdoor sculptures."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

Inspired by Fawns Playing by Anna Hyatt Huntington
Floral design by Doris Crowell - Nathaniel Cawsey Garden Club
Hopewell, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Inspired by Bacchante and infant Faun by Frederick MacMonnies
Floral design by Jean Fender and Gloria Crump - Hilliard Park Garden Club
Richmond, Virginia
Photo by Kathleen Sams Flippen
Fine Arts and Flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 5, 2014)

Frederick MacMonnies
American, 1863 - 1937
Bacchante and Infant Faun, modeled 1893, cast 1895
Bronze
Gift of Mr. G. A. Peple, 55.29 a-b
Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

"Following an apprenticeship with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and study abroad at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, MacMonnies triumphed as a leading sculptor at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. But his Bacchante and Infant Faun, well-received at the Paris Salon of 1894, garnered the most comment and controversy. Placed on view at the Boston Public Library, a life-size version of this nude figure shocked public sensibility. The ebullient bacchante - in classical literature a celebrant of Bacchus, god of wine - skips as she dangles a cluster of grapes over a baby's head. The large bronze was rejected by the library board as inappropriate - more on grounds of her seemingly tipsy demeanor than her state of undress. Almost immediately it was accepted into the collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
MacMonnies, who enjoyed a prolific career for decades to come, found a successful market for bronze reductions of the infamous Bacchante - including this 1895 casting, which retains its original Corinthian column pedestal."
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond, Virginia

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