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Flora Symbolica: Flowers in Pre-Raphaelite Art [Hardcover]

Debra Mancoff
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb. 18 2003
This bouquet of romantic paintings brings together two important aspects of Victorian life - the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the language of flowers. Few artistic movements capture classic notions of beauty as romantically as the Pre-Raphaelites - a group of 19th-century painters and poets who aimed to revive the purer art of the late mediaeval period. Brilliantly coloured and carefully composed, Pre-Raphaelite paintings are revered for their idealistic portrayal of women, their emphasis on nature and morality, and their use of literature and mythology. Flowers figure prominently in many of these paintings, the blooms as physically lush as they are laden with symbolism. For this was the Victorian era, when the language of flowers was spoken by everyone. In this volume, Debra N. Mancoff presents 40 examples which illuminate the meaning of flowers in all aspects of Victorian culture. She offers brief commentaries on individual paintings as well as biographies of the period's leading artists and their models. An introduction to an artistic movement, this work is also a romantic keepsake of an artistic sensibility.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A throw-away book July 12 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I have several books by Mancoff and get the feeling she just went through the motions on this one. Ostensibly about floral symbolism, the book actually contains very little on the subject. It's more of a collection of pretty pictures accompanied by some juicy gossip about the affairs of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne Jones, etc. Often a painting will clearly show many flowers--for example Charles Allston Collins' "Convent Thoughts" has eleven--but the desciption will cover only a few. In other cases, the entry will be 95% about the personal life of the artist with 1 or 2 sentences about flowers tacked on at the end. Mancoff does assemble some paintings that are seldom reproduced, and it is fun to look at more popular paintings with new eyes. I would have liked it better, however, if she had explored how this symbolic language developed, how familiar people were with this language, and had included even more pop culture references to floral symbolism than she does.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A throw-away book July 12 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have several books by Mancoff and get the feeling she just went through the motions on this one. Ostensibly about floral symbolism, the book actually contains very little on the subject. It's more of a collection of pretty pictures accompanied by some juicy gossip about the affairs of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne Jones, etc. Often a painting will clearly show many flowers--for example Charles Allston Collins' "Convent Thoughts" has eleven--but the desciption will cover only a few. In other cases, the entry will be 95% about the personal life of the artist with 1 or 2 sentences about flowers tacked on at the end. Mancoff does assemble some paintings that are seldom reproduced, and it is fun to look at more popular paintings with new eyes. I would have liked it better, however, if she had explored how this symbolic language developed, how familiar people were with this language, and had included even more pop culture references to floral symbolism than she does.
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