Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nature in Culture - Part 2: The Flowers and The Foliage

Still looking at architecture at The Cloisters, one finds, among many others, another Medieval interpretation of one of nature's most basic forms: the stylized forms of flowers mostly compositae in format: flower petals radiating from a central flat disk. This is the flower we all drew as children when asked to draw a flower. In yet another capital to a column, this one located in The Cloisters' Pontaut Chapter House, we see a column with this unusual capital.

The classical Greek orders don't generally feature flower forms. The primary form of the graceful capital in Corinthian Order derives from the acanthus leaf. (See my post on this subject from Sept. 21, 2008.) The Middle Ages witnessed an influx of garden and nature motifs in paintings, woven tapestries, and artifacts from jewelry to architectural ornamentation.

Water lilies (picture on right,) and lotuses in ponds, coneflowers, tibouchinas (see below,) and sunflowers are only a few examples of the compositaes that are the basis of the five or six petaled images so dominant in our collective consciousness when we think of flowers.


Sierra said...

I love the shadows in the black & white picture.

Sally Yap said...

Thank you.

Isn't it gorgeous? Sometimes it's the darks - the shadows - that makes the space, or the picture, as in this case.

My partner, Larry Hedrick, took the photo, he's a wonderful photographer. I have him to thank for 99% of the photos on my blog.