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Floral magic over centuries of art

New show stars Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Monet works

22 January, 18:38
Floral magic over centuries of art (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - An exhibition celebrating the allure of stunning floral creations over three centuries of art opens Sunday in this eastern Italian town.

The San Domenico Museum in Forli is staging an entire show devoted to depictions of blossoms and blooms, including paintings by a host of masters from the 1500s to the early 20th century.

Work by Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Caravaggio, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Giovanni Boldini and Giuseppe De Nittis will be among those featured. ''This exhibition charts the history of still life paintings, specifically a history starring flowers,'' explained curator Antonio Paolucci. ''This story has largely been 'written' by non-specialists, such as the artist behind the 'Fiasca Fiorita' painting,'' he added, referring to the exhibition's poster image. This exquisite painting, the inspiration for the event, depicts a broken flask, containing a cluster of blue, gold, white and red freesia blooms.

One of the greatest works in the San Domenico Museum's own collection, it has long attracted attention from scholars keen to identify its creator.

Many names have been suggested over the years and although the artist remains a mystery, the most widely accepted attributions are Caravaggio and, more popularly, a 17th-century painter named Guido Cagnacci.

However, there is general agreement that 'Fiasca Fiorita' was the work of a sophisticated, talented painter, who probably turned his hand to floral subjects intermittently, rather than a niche artist who worked solely on flowers.

This reflects the broader thrust of the exhibit, which deliberately steers clear of specialist floral artwork designed for a broadly commercial market.

Instead, curators have sought to use occasional works by established artists to trace the development of artistic depictions of flowers.

The exhibit starts with 16th-century naturalist portrayals, by artists such as Caravaggio.

It then moves into early modernist interpretations, looking at work by Vincent Van Gogh among others. The next stage takes visitors into symbolist visions of the floral world, before wrapping up with avant-garde depictions in the 20th century. Although the focus is on flowers, the exhibit also includes paintings of people with a strong floral theme. One such example is a famous portrait of Rembrandt's wife, Saskia, in which the Dutch master depicted her as the Roman goddess Flora, complete with a floral headpiece. The exhibition runs from January 24 until June 10 at Forli's San Domenico Museum.

photo: Monet, waterliliesa, complete with a floral headpiece. The exhibition runs from January 24 until June 10 at Forli's San Domenico Museum.

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