Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 5

Continuing with my research for the Still Life project, I was very pleased to be able to order the book Nature & Its Symbols.

This book is very concise & easy to read, which makes a difference from some of the heavy tomes from my college reading days.

I particularly liked the chapter looking flowers, which helped continue my thoughts on my still life shot.

“Since antiquity, the image of the flower has been associated with the notion that both life and beauty are short-lived. These theme find expression above all in the genre of floral still lifes, which became particularly popular during the seventeenth century. In paintings of this sort, splendid bouquets of flowers appear alongside others that are beginning to wilt, their petals lying scattered about the vase that unites the composition.” (1)

A good example shown in the book with regards to the symbolism of flowers is contained within this following image called Virgin & Child Inside a Garland (c1625) by Frans Ykens & Gerard Seghers:


Working clockwise from the top of the painting, the Impelluso explains the meanings of certain elements depicted:

  • The iconographic tradition of the flower garland surrounding a medallion of devotional images, most often of the Virgin & Child, began in Northern Europe in the early seventeenth century.
  • The Christ Child is portrayed crushing a snake, the symbol of evil. He holds an apple, an allusion to Original Sin & symbol of redemption.
  • The chestnut refers to the Virgin Mary. Its fruit is not scratched by its thorns, just as Mary is immune to Original Sin even though it exists all around her.
  • The plum is a symbol of loyalty.
  • The narcissus alludes to the Virgin’s sorrow.
  • The orange blossoms evoke the image of Mary, bride of Jesus.
  • The roses allude, respectively to the Blessed Virgin’s love & purity. (2)

In another chapter looking at the symbolism of flowers, it describes the last flower mentioned as:

“The rose is one of the attributes of Venus, goddess of love. Because of its thorns, during the Renaissance the flower was also considered a symbol of the sorrows of love.” (3)

I definitely want to include flowers within my image. Whether real or fake is still to be seen.

  1. Nature and Its Symbols by Lucia Impelluso Pg 74
  2. Nature and Its Symbols by Lucia Impelluso Pg 78
  3. Nature and Its Symbols by Lucia Impelluso Pg 126

Criteria Ref: P1 & P4.




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