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The flower in fine and decorative art

Weekend-long art history and theory course

Short course

  • 12 October 2019, 10am — 5pm
  • 13 October 2019, 10am — 5pm
This event has now ended

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Mary Moser RA, Summer (detail), ca. 1780.

Oil on Canvas. 63.5 cm x 53.3 mm. Royal Academy of Arts.

Explore the hidden meanings and symbolic uses of flowers in fine and decorative arts of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Mary Moser (1744-1819), one of the only two female founding members of the Royal Academy in London, was a flower painter. Moser’s Spring and Summer feature among many more paintings and drawings of flowers by Academicians and other artists in the Royal Academy Collection which still holds an array of paintings, historic books, prints and drawings of plants, flowers and botanical wonders of the natural world.

Moser’s work demonstrates she was familiar with a broad tradition of mainstream floral painting in European art, coming particularly from the Netherlands during the Baroque period when the taste for exotic, imported flowers was at its height. Fortunes were made and lost trading tulips and other bulbs on the commercial market, and tulips are frequently depicted in both fine and decorative arts as symbols of wealth, power and status.

Developing independently from Europe, although influencing European traditions in many ways, is the long-standing tradition of flower painting which can be found in Asian art. It was collected by Europeans such as Sir Hans Sloane, whose prints formed part of the early British Museum. The combination of the European tradition of floral art and the importation of prints and flowers from Asia and Asia Minor into Europe became an important element in decorative art of the 17th and 18th centuries, including textiles, ceramics, and the genre of ‘floral marquetry’ in high-end European furniture.

From Pierre Gole, the favourite ébéniste of Louis XIV, to Jean-François Oeben, one of the greatest of furniture makers in the reign of Louis XV, this course offers participants an insight into all three of these areas of art – European and Asian flower painting, as well as the role of flowers in the decorative arts.

Participants will be taught by experts across these diverse areas and the course also includes a visit to the galleries of the Wallace Collection, in London, to see objects and art works which showcase the power and beauty of the flower.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 12 October 2019, 10am — 5pm
  • 13 October 2019, 10am — 5pm

Wolfson British Academy Room, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£420. Includes all materials, light refreshments and a wine reception at the end of day one.