Van Gogh, Manet and Matisse: A passion for painting flowers

For just about as extended as artists have been painting floral still lifes, the subject has been doubted or belittled when it hasn’t been dismissed.

Even the great Dutch flower paintings of the early 1600s were destined largely for private rather than public settings, as if their attractive colors and precisely rendered botanical types have been much better suited for a naturalist’s sequestered specimen room than a cultivated connoisseur’s trophy hall.

Not till the 1800s did the lowly nonetheless life — along with the landscape — commence to attract interest in a way that would finally topple the old hierarchies of the Renaissance and the French and British academies and turn the art planet upside down.

So strongly drawn was the influential French painter Edouard Manet in the early 1880s that — throughout the last two years of his life — he helped pioneer a new, additional minimalist and extra painterly grasp of

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