“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
These are the famous words of Claude Monet, who was a founding father of French Impressionism, one of the most important artistic periods of all time. It’s clear that flowers have always been a powerful muse for some of the world’s most famous artists like Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh and Renoir.
To illustrate the strong connection between flowers and art, we’ve paired 19 different types of flowers with famous paintings. If you look closely at the colors and distinct brush strokes, you’ll be surprised to learn which flowers match perfectly with your favorite paintings. Did you know that hydrangeas are a perfect match to the turquoise blues used in Monet’s, Water Lily Pond? Or that the look of soft cherry blossoms match the pink and pillowy skirt of Degás’ ballerinas?
Check out the visuals we created below which highlight featured flowers inspired by famous paintings.
Irises, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh
Although he remained virtually unknown throughout his life, Vincent van Gogh was one of the most famous Dutch painters of all time. During the last year of his life, he created over 130 paintings while staying at a mental asylum. It was during this time that he created a series of irises, as he was inspired by their vivid colors and curving shapes.
Irises – Irises are one of the most iconic flowers of spring. Therefore, it makes sense that Van Gogh was inspired by their gorgeous blue and purple colors.
Chrysanthemum – Deep orange chrysanthemums tie in perfectly with the terracotta-colored soil depicted within this painting. Their layered petals evoke the short brush strokes used to depict the soil beneath.
Coreopsis – Coreopsis flowers are known for their bright yellow color, the perfect color complement to the blue irises.
Les toits de Collioure, 1905 by Henri Matisse
As one of the leaders of the Post-Impressionist movement, Henri Matisse is well-regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century due to his eccentric use of color. His works are characterized by pure blocks of bright and bold colors that are unmixed and painted on top of white canvases. His purist style led to the formation of Fauvism, a movement whose main purpose was to separate color from all contexts and to exist as an “independent element.”
Peony – Bold pink peonies evoke the bright fuchsias used in this iconic painting. The texture created by the layered washes of different hues are also evident within the densely layered petals that peonies are known for.
Due to their magnificence, peonies often stand alone in an arrangement, just as the Fauvists used color as independent elements.
Marigold – The sun-kissed rooftops depicted within this work are represented by marigolds for their bright orange color and contributes to the overall playfulness of the work.
Ranunculus – Ranunculuses are known for their bold colors. Red ranunculuses have a distinctly deep color which ties into the rich reds that anchor this painting.
Water Lily Pond, 1900 by Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a French painter known for his abstract-style which ultimately gave rise to the movement of Impressionism. The capturing of light and fleeting beauty was one of the most important philosophies of Impressionism. Due to his obsession with the impermanence of nature’s beauty, Monet is most known for his in-depth depictions of nature, particularly, of landscapes, gardens and flowers.
Waterlilies – As one of nature’s most beautiful flowers, it’s easy to see why Monet was inspired to create an entire series depicting their beauty. Since a water lily flowers only lasts about four days, it’s clear to see why Monet was inspired to capture their fleeting beauty. In fact, Monet spent over three decades creating Nympheas, his series on water lilies. In 1918, he donated 12 of these paintings to the French nation where they are on display to this day
Hydrangea – White hydrangeas have a slightly green undertone to their petals. To create a turquoise color, the tips of white hydrangea petals are tinted with light blue. The combination of green and blue results in a delicate turquoise hue that matches the soothing color used by Monet in his water lily paintings.
Hellebore – Hellebores are evergreen plants that are one of the first to bloom during spring. Green hellebores have a refreshing lime green color that awakens the senses. Paired with brown-spotted centers, similar to those of anemones. The combination of earthy tones paired with vivid greens in hellebore flowers, evoke the lively greens speckled throughout the backdrop of the painting.
Chrysanthemums, 1881 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
A French Impressionist, Renoir is known for his depictions of domestic scenes. His expertise in capturing light and shadow allowed him to create a style that was unique to the times. Unlike Monet, whose muse was nature, Renoir looked to the streets of Paris to capture the beauty in everyday life or “intimate domesticity.” His works include depictions of well-dressed Parisians, families, as well as still-life subjects. As an eccentric colorist, he brought new life to the mundane.
Chrysanthemums – A common household flower, Renoir’s depiction of chrysanthemums is invigorated not only through his use of bright colors, but through his long brush strokes which create movement within the still-life painting. Yellow chrysanthemums symbolize sorrow or neglected love, which is fitting for the overall somber feel of the piece.
Roses – White roses are a natural pairing to chrysanthemums because they too, are common household flowers. The delicate pink undertones within the white rose, evoke the coral tint within the shadows of the white chrysanthemums.
Poppy – Red poppies are vivid with their crimson red color. The splash of bold red revitalizes the overall somber theme and naturally complements the white and yellow flowers.
Dancer Taking a Bow (The Star), 1878 by Edgar Degas
French Impressionist Edgar Degas was deeply inspired by the natural forms of ballerina dancers. Through his use of delicate pastel colors and unusual angles he captured these majestic female dancers by portraying them behind the scenes and in unconventional situations. These portrayals provided an intimate lens into the lives of ballerinas, who were regarded as objectified subjects of glamour in Parisian society.
Garden rose – Much like the ruffled layers of the ballerina’s sumptuous tulle skirt, the petals of the garden rose are delicate and intricately layered. Soft coral and pinks, a classic color for ballerina dresses, highlight the delicate ballerina against the hardness of the stage and backdrop.
Lavender – Lavender, a longtime symbol of peace and calm, represents the florals attached to the ballerina’s waist. As objects of desire, the ballerina must maintain a calm outward appearance while on stage.
Succulent – The succulent with its icy green petals and colored tips, evokes the wide arrange of colors used to depict the stage and the nature-like backdrop.
Tahitian Women on the Beach, 1891 by Paul Gauguin
A self-proclaimed “savage,” Paul Gauguin started his eccentric career as an Impressionist painter. During the 1880s, he exiled himself to Tahiti to escape the perils of urban civilization and to fully immerse himself in “edenic paradise.” To him, primitive art was the most pure form of expression. Thus, his work during this time consist of depictions of island life and intimate portrayals of polynesian women.
Hibiscus – The hibiscus flower is the ultimate symbol of the tropics, is a flower that grows wild in Tahiti. Red hibiscus flowers evoke the tribal-printed island skirt worn by the woman on the left.
Plumeria – Another flower of the tropics, plumerias produce delicate flowers. It is likely, that Tahitian women would put these flowers behind their ears due to their sweet fragrance.
Orchid – Orchids thrive in tropical climates. The pink flesh-like petals and their undulating curves, further evoke the feminine nature of this piece.
Le séchage des voiles (The Drying Sails), 1905 by André Derain
Along with Matisse, André Derain was one of the founding fathers of Fauvism. Inspired by African art, his style is characterized by unmutilated colors expressed in the form of dense brush strokes. One of his main artistic philosophies was to capture universal beauty without the need for context so that his work can continue to provide meaning for generations to come.
Hyacinth – From the edge of the water’s shore, to the tops of the mountains in the background, the varying degrees of this unique blue color is represented by the periwinkle blue of hyacinth flowers. Their bell-shaped flowers grow on top of a central stalk, with buds that turn into a deeper shade as the buds mature.
Cornflower – Dark shades of royal blue are used to create depths of shadow and definition. Cornflowers are known for their rich blue color, and spike-shaped petals which evoke the lively texture within the brushstrokes that bring this seaside scene to life.
Chrysanthemum – Dual-colored chrysanthemums evoke the abrupt brush strokes that are evident in Derain’s eccentric style. The contrasting tones within the petals further are likened to the stark contrasts between the bold colors against the white backdrop.
It’s clear to see why flowers and art go hand-in-hand. Introduce elements of these famous works of art into your home by decorating with these floral pairings. Channel Gauguin by decorating your patio with a tropical orchid arrangement. Or how about recreating Monet’s waterlilies with an arrangement of hydrangeas on your coffee table?