Exhibition Overview

Extended through September 24, 2017

People have admired flowers for centuries and this summer we celebrate floral objects from the Museum’s collections— a masterpiece book of designs, a drawing by Georgia O’Keeffe, a rug by Matisse. The paintings, photographs, and decorated objects on display are full of beauty and surprise and illustrate the ways we express our love of flowers in art and decoration. The British and French art establishments of the 18th century deemed flower painting insignificant because they thought it did not convey elevated themes. Nineteenth-century American artists, who revered all forms of nature, disagreed. To them the colored, curled, and fragile petals seemed to hold poetic allusions to ephemeral beauty and life. Flowers in art appear as the primary subject matter and also highlight larger scenes. We see flowers in artistic but also scientifically accurate botanical illustrations, in still-life paintings and, as accessories in portraits. Artists often paint women with blooms to suggest the fleeting nature of beauty. Photographers, influenced by centuries of still life and garden painting, turn their cameras on flowers too, sometimes to make symbolic associations, sometimes to study artistic form. Stone flowers ornament architecture, cloth flowers our clothes, painted flowers our crockery. Whether arranged into gardens and bouquets or depicted as art and decoration, these “gems of nature” fill our lives with visual and emotional pleasure. The exhibition was made possible, in part, by the generosity of an anonymous supporter
of the Museum.


“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small.
We haven't time—and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.”
                                                                                                        Georgia O'Keeffe

Selected Objects in the Exhibition

Landscape, Fruit and Flowers

Frances Flora Bond Palmer
(American, 1812–1876)
Published by Currier & Ives
New York Museum purchase, 2017

Date:1862 Medium: Two-color lithograph, hand-colored

Still Life with Flowers
and Fruit

Albert Herter
(American, 1871-1950)
Gift of Mrs. Harriet C. Herter, 1981

Date: c. 1910 Medium: Oil on canvas

Untitled (Banana Flower)

Georgia O'Keeffe
Bequest of Carl E. Hiller, 1992

Date: 1934 Medium: Charcoal on paper

Evelyn Nesbit with Rose
(The Bridal Rose)

Rudolf Eickemeyer Jr. (American, 1862 – 1932)
Gift of Mrs. Erik Kaeyer, 1975

Date:1901 Medium: Sepia print photo

Floral Studies, Rose cultivar

Joanna Vark Kellinger (American, 1834-1916)
Gift of Miss Janet Waring, 1939

Date: c. 1860 Medium: Watercolor


Audrey Flack
(American, born 1931)
Gift of Mr. Sidney Singer, 1986

Date:1975 Medium: Dye transfer print

Jewelry Safe

Marvin Safe Co.
Gift of Jane E. Fortmann, 2000

Date:c. 1875 Medium: Painted cast iron, birds-eye maple, velvet

Carpet Runner

Alexander Smith & Sons Carpet Company
Gift of the Skinner Family, 2007

Date:Late 19th century Medium: Wool

Odell & Booth Brothers Vase

Gift of Marco Polo Stufano, 2014

Date:c. 1878-1890 Medium: Glazed earthenware

Beaded Reticule

Gifts from the collection of Ellen C. Fischer, Ph.D., 2014

Date: Late 19th century Medium:

Beaded Handbag

Gifts from the collection of Ellen C. Fischer, Ph.D., 2014

Date: Early 20th century Medium:

Evening Coat with Chrysanthemum Embroidery

Dunstan, Inc., New York
Gift of Miss Susan D. Bliss, 1937

Date:c. 1922 Medium: Silk taffeta, silk satin, chiffon, metallic thread