flora-symbolica_-flowers-in-pr180_fSo I’ve been watching Jeremy Paxman’s series on Victorian painting on the BBC, and obviously the pre-Raphaelites feature quite a bit, and I haven’t started any of my reading for the Art History challenge, and the Book God asked me a question about flowers (I think, may have imagined that) so I toodled off and picked this up from the bookshelf. Just to dip into you understand…..

Some time later I had read it from cover to cover; not a huge book but a lovely selection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings featuring flowers and a page on each one explaining what the various plants actually mean.

Interesting diversion into the language of flowers; there wasn’t just one dictionary of meanings apparently, and many a young man had to cope with the tears that ensued from a different interpretation of the bouquet he’d just presented.

The reproductions are lovely and the text interesting. And in case you are wondering, the cover is Rossetti’s “La Ghirlandata”, painted in the 1870s, and the flowers it includes are honeysuckle (affectionate devotion though Rossetti saw it as a symbol of sexual attraction); pink roses (the sexual attraction thing again as they are at their full bloom) and surprisingly monkshood (approach of a dangerous foe) – though William Rossetti thought his brother meant to paint larkspur (an emblem of lightness and levity). So even great artists get it wrong sometimes too.

This is my first read for the Art History Reading Challenge.