From time immemorial, artists across the world have depicted plants, flowers, and other elements of botany in their work that ranges widely in matter and motive. Botany in one form or the other can be found in several historic artworks.
Artists see flowers as the enlightenment of plants. Most of the artists paint flowers just in praise of the nature’s beauty and to accolade its various shades! It’s a true satisfying endeavour for a nature admirer and he might feel an immense pleasure in doing so. Painting flowers provide richness of colour, form, and variety and freedom of expression at the same time. Moreover, floral paintings are always in huge demand and largely liked by a varied group of people. Owing to the enormous range of diversity in this subject matter, an artist has an advantage to create a new work every time which would attract its own audience.
For hundreds of years, artists have apprehended the rich diversity of plants through their master strokes. They have portrayed flowers as symbols and sketched the changed meanings the flowers convey over different period of time. Flowers may symbolize birth or death, simplicity or complexity, love or hatred, optimism or pessimism, comfort or adversity – and so on or just simple beautiful flowers and no other ‘meaning’, depending upon the artist’s perspective and message that he wants to convey. Eventually, how the work is been perceived by the onlooker or observer matter the most as the famous proverb says, ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’.
Paintings have a huge impact on the society. In ancient times, when people were mostly illiterate, they could understand and follow what they could see or hear. People could relate more to the realistic objects painted that they usually see in their surroundings and which were very much a part of their life, flowers and plants being just one of them. Paintings or artworks were thus a significant means of communicating and connecting with them and most of the artworks have influenced them.
Plants or flowers as symbols fulfilled the objectives in such creations..
Some of the plants and their parts represented in ancient artworks were adopted as symbols too! The elaborate and composite symbolism of plants found its way to suit the wisdom, culture, belief and tradition of human civilizations.
To begin with, plant drawings, were done due to the medicinal value of the plants. But later on, plants were also appreciated for their aesthetic value and appeal. Botany as a separate branch of study emerged and the flowers of the plants became an important focal point. With the extensive popularisation of gardening and horticulture, they also find their ways into the sheets of paper or canvasses. Moreover, scientists and agriculturists also engaged artists in plant drawings for study and research purposes. Gardeners also employed artists to portray certain exotic, rare, peculiar or popular flowers for various purposes. Floral drawings attracted more buyers owing to their appeal.
The illustrations and detailed drawings of plants were extensively referred by medical practitioners, physicians, pharmacists, scientists, botanists, agriculturists, gardeners and horticulturists for identification, classification, research and analysis. Those works of the past is a resource to researchers today as well as a ‘living’ source of inspiration to the present day artists.

Pooja Gupta

About Pooja Gupta