Flower Guide

Field Guide to Flowers at the Denver Art Museum

A Field Guide to Flowers at the Denver Art Museum

This page supports A Field Guide to Flowers at the Denver Art Museum, a gift book published by the DAM in 2015.

A Field Guide to Flowers gathers together floral images from paintings, photographs, textiles, and other objects in the Denver Art Museum's collections and groups them in unexpected ways.

In the Guide

In the Guide

Within the guide, find flower-inspired stories, activities, and recipes like these:

The following are full images of artworks from the Denver Art Museum's collection shown in detail in A Field Guide to Flowers:

Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926; Waterlilies or The Water Lily Pond (Nymphéas), 1904; oil paint on canvas. Funds from Helen Dill bequest, 1935.14

Claude Monet is quoted as saying, "I must have flowers always and always." His garden at Giverny was a source of inspiration and joy for more than twenty years. At Giverny, Monet created wild, colorful, immersive gardens including his asymmetrical water garden, which he captured in about three hundred different works. This particular Waterlilies painting is one of four from this same viewpoint created in 1904.

Elisabeth Spalding, American, 1868–1954; Poppies in Albert Olson's Garden, 1928; watercolor on paper. Bequest of Elisabeth Spalding, 1988.283

Barbara Putnam, American, b. 1954; Simplocarpus Foetidus, 1997; woodblock print on paper. Funds from the Contemporary Realism Group, 2000.39

Calligraphy by Imad ul-Husaini and border by Khoudes Ahmad; Leaf from "The Rose and the Nightingale"; Iran, Mashad, Shrine of Imam Reza; late 1800s, Qajar period; ink and colors on paper. Gift of the Edna Hadley Collection, 1968.31

Hanging or Cover; Uzbekistan, about 1800s; silk embroidery on cotton. Neusteter Textile Collection: Funds, by exchange, from Mr. and Ms. Lawrence J. Phipps Jr. and Neusteter Institute Funds, 2002.3

Vividly embroidered cloths were an essential part of a Central Asian bride's dowry. Known as suzani (from the Persian word suzan, meaning needle), they were made by female relatives and friends and vary in size according to their intended use, from large wall hangings to small cushion covers. The bold red rosettes are thought to represent poppies, while the palmettes, considered the flower of the pomegranate, symbolize fertility. When displayed throughout the home, these textiles create a virtual garden.

Ason Yellowhair, Navajo, 1930–2012; Bird and Flower Pictorial Rug, 1983; wool. The Gloria F. Ross Collection of Contemporary Navajo Weaving of the Denver Art Museum, 1984.4

Large rugs are a specialty of the Yellowhair family. According to the artist, her love of the outdoors led to the imagery on this rug, but her daughter identified the inspiration for the stylized flowering plants as those on Wrigley's spearmint chewing gum wrappers.

Wardell Milan, American, b. 1978; Tulip, 2012; oil paint, charcoal, colored graphite, pastel, and crayon on paper. Gift of the Eleanor and Henry Hitchcock Foundation, 2015.66 © Wardell Milan

Keith Edmier, American, b. 1967; Sunflower, 1996; acrylic and polymer. Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum, 2010.471a–c

Vase; American, about 1900; engraved silver deposit and acid-washed glass; manufactured by La Pierre Manufacturing Company, U.S. Purchased with funds in memory of Earl M. Kipp from his friends, 1985.349

Bently Spang, Cheyenne, b. 1960; Modern Warrior Series: War Shirt #4—National Sacrifice, 2010; glass beads, velvet, silk plant leaves, rubber figures, color photographs, Ethernet cord, SD card, plastic packaging, hemp cord. William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, by exchange, 2010.491ab ©Bently Spang.

Artist Bently Spang uses new materials to celebrate his ancestors: "I made this shirt to honor the 'National Sacrifice' my relatives in the past made to secure my people, the Cheyenne or Tsististas and Suhtaio as we call ourselves, our beautiful homeland . . . the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana . . . wherein the flowers and rocks depicted on this shirt reside . . . our relatives in the past gifted us with their powerful intellect, their unshakable resolve and a fierce pride in our identity. In this shirt I have tried to bring all these gifts together to comment on my experience in this time period, just as my relatives did . . . in the past."

Apron; Czechoslovakia, late 1800s; cotton with embroidery and lace hem. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Mrs. Thomas Patterson Campbell, 1964.135

Wedding Headdress; China, late Qing dynasty, 1800s; silk, kingfisher feathers, copper alloy, turquoise, glass, ceramic. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Mrs. J. Churchill Owen, 1973.23

Using bright blue kingfisher feathers for ornamentation has a long history in China. At first these costly products were only for the elite, but by the 1800s it was common for a bride to wear a headdress fashioned with kingfisher feathers. The precious stone "jewels," however, were replaced by ceramic, glass, or paste versions.

Floral ornaments mingled with bats, symbols of blessings, and golden wish-granting clouds cover the black silk lattice underbonnet of this wedding headdress. Characters for double happiness appear at the crown, and in the center of each strand of the beaded veil is an auspicious symbol.

Bedcover (Ryijy); Sahalahti, Finland, early 1800s; woven wool and linen, wool pile. Neusteter Textile Collection: National Museum of Finland, by exchange, 1948.60

A valuable possession, this heavy cover, called a ryijy, was probably commissioned as part of a dowry. The bride and groom sometimes stood on ryijys during the wedding ceremony and then used them as bedcoverings. Patterned examples like this ryijy might also be hung on a wall.

Barbara Latham, American, 1896–1989; Decoration Day, about 1940s; watercolor on paper. Funds from the William D. Hewit Charitable Annuity Trust, 1986.40

Girl's Baby Carrier Cover (Miyamairi); Japan, 1920–30; stenciled paste resist on woven silk. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Jonathan and Dale Carolyn Gluckman, 2011.399

When taken to the Shinto shrine for its miyamairi presentation, a baby was wrapped in this garment and carried facing its grandmother's chest. False seams (semamori), usually at the nape of the neck, allowed a vent for evil spirits to escape, while a "dragon eye" talisman, embroidered on the front where the straps attach to the robe, guards against goblins and spirits. The red color and floral motifs were suitable for a girl.

Portrait of Sister Ana María of the Precious Blood of Christ; Puebla, Mexico, about 1770; oil paint on canvas. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2014.215

As "brides of Christ," nuns in colonial Mexico took their vows wearing a crown covered with flowers and carrying candles or bouquets with matching flowers. The flowers were made of wax or fabric over a wire framework.

Maria van Oosterwyck, Dutch, 1630–93; Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, about 1670s; oil paint on canvas. Funds by exchange from T. Edward and Tullah Hanley in honor of longtime director Otto Bach and his wife, Cile Bach, 1997.219

Oosterwyck's intricately detailed bugs and flowers appealed to a public that was fascinated by the natural world. Oosterwyck observed these flowers with a botanist's eye. In this painting, she included blooms at every stage of development, from buds to drooping petals. She also painted them from all angles, even focusing on stems and undersides of leaves.

Martin J. Heade, American, 1819–1904; Red Roses in a Glass, about 1880; oil paint on canvas. The Edward and Tullah Hanley Memorial Gift to the People of Denver and the Area, 1974.419

Anna Eliza Pratt Perrine, American, 1823–95; Album Quilt, 1942–43; hand appliquéd cotton (broderie perse), silk embroidery, ink drawing and inscriptions; hand quilted; cotton fringe. Neusteter Textile Collection: Funds from Nancy Lake Benson and Bruce Benson and an anonymous acquisition challenge grant, 1985.300

To create the floral arrangements, the maker cut flowers from glazed printed cottons called chintz, assembled them into the desired design, and carefully stitched them down. The expensive yardage and time necessary to complete such a quilt limited this technique to ladies of means and leisure. Smaller blossoms and fine details are drawn with pen and ink or embroidered, while signatures are signed, stamped, or stenciled. These floral forget-me-nots reminded the owner of family and friends.

Charlotte Jane Whitehill, American, 1866–1964; The Rose Tree, 1940; hand appliquéd cotton; hand quilted. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Charlotte Jane Whitehill, 1955.50

Saint Rose of Lima; Colombia/Ecuador, 1700s; oil paint on canvas with silver lace. Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard family, 1990.516

Charles W. Hawthorne, American, 1872–1930; The New Dress, 1903; oil paint on canvas. Gift of Charles E. Stanton in memory of Mariam and Iler Watson, 1983.4

The woman here wears a stylish dress topped off with a hat, the essential crown and status symbol of any respectable woman of her time. The oversized hats of the years around 1900 were the perfect stage for an opulent display of large and exquisite flowers. The roses on this hat match the model's pink cheeks, recalling the age-old comparison of a beautiful woman to a rose.

Zuni artist; Squash Blossom Necklace, about 1910; silver and turquoise. Native Arts acquisition fund, 1955.172

Do you see the squash blossom? It's the "exploded" bead repeated along the outer edges. However, the shape may actually be based on representations of a pomegranate that the Navajos saw in Spanish buttons.

Young Woman with a Harpsichord; Mexico, 1735–50; oil paint on canvas. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer; 2014.209

This young woman, probably a musician or composer from Mexico City, wears a powdered wig and a spectacular red dress of silk brocade imported either from Asia or Spain. She wears a gold and diamond choker with crucifix and matching earrings, multiple rings, and two seven-strand pearl bracelets. The flowers in her wig are called tembladeras and are attached to springy wires that move with the wearer.

Yushusha Isshi, Japanese, 1820–1896; Sword Guard with Floral Motif; Edo period, early 1800s, silver. In celebration of Isabel Marie Conversano Seibert by Elizabeth Seibert, 1997.16

Chinese Woman's Informal Robe; China, Qing dynasty, late 1800s; silk damask with silk and metal thread embroidery; applied woven silk ribbon; silk lining. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift from the estate of Mrs. Frank McLister, 1973.74

Auspicious wishes abound on this coat. The largest arrangement combines peaches for long life, butterflies for joy, a triangular stone chime for celebration, narcissus for immortality, and a wish-granting wand to ensure that all will come true. The bats carrying two coins mean "may you have both blessings and longevity." The squirrel and grapes on the sleeve band are a wish for endless generations of sons and grandsons. Gathered into a bowl on the lower hem, a Buddha's hand citron, peach, and pomegranate, known as the three abundances, represent happiness, longevity, and fertility.

Endpapers adapted from Lou Bonin-Tchimoukoff, French, 1878–1963; Untitled, 1978; gelatin silver print. Denver Art Museum: Gift of Paul and Teresa Harbaugh, 2011.377