Famous poppy painters in the art history (click here to attend)

My beloved poppy painters - which I'm so so proud of - we're halfway through this magnificent celebration! Some of you have been here since day one, others have joined along the way - but here we are: it's week three and our common poppy field is growing and blooming fantastically as we speak! Let's welcome together the newbies from last week  and thank them for being here! Some of you might need just a little bit of time to catch up with everything, but that's perfect, because...

Today we will learn how poppies have always been popular flowers to paint - even for the most famous painters in the art history!

Hard not to be in loved with poppies if you lived in France of the 19th century! Claude Monet, a famous impressionist French painter used poppies (and nature, for that matter) as one of the most important motifs of his art. He was foremost a landscape painter - and most of his works were depictions of poppy fields within Argentueil or Giverny, two places near Paris where he lived for many years. Poppies not only could be found in great abundance in those places, but they also offered an excellent opportunity to use bright reds, which complemented his impressiont style perfectly, sitting against his usual palette of greens and blues. Sometimes, to add a more personal feel, he would include Camille (his wife) or his children in the poppy paintings - anyway, he always found inspiration within the surrounding landscapes of the French country side. Here are some of his most famous poppy paintings:



Another uber-famous poppy painter was one of my favorites artists - Vincent van Gogh. Being his entire life a starving artist, Van Gogh couldn't afford to pay models to pose for him - and this way, painting from nature became more practical (again - we can see the enormous influence of the poppy fields in France, where he lived as well). This way, he completed many paintings featuring poppy flowers, especially between the years 1886 and 1890. In 1886, in a letter to another artist, Horace M. Livens, he wrote: "And now, for what regards what I myself have been doing, I have lacked money for paying models else I had entirely given myself to figure painting. But I have made a series of colour studies in painting simply flowers, red poppies, trying to render intense colour and not a grey harmony". He began painting poppies like this, as simply studies, but they became an important motif in his art later on. Unlike Monet, who was more of a landscape painter, Van Gogh prefered still life paintings. Pleased with contrasting colours in his poppy paintings, he used this technique in many of his works with the birlliant red of the blooming poppies against the bright green of the fields. Poppies or red geraniums in vigorously green leaves - motif in red and green. These are fundamentals, which one may subdivide further, and elaborate, but quite enough to show you without the help of a picture that there are colours which cause each other to shine brilliantly, which form a couple, which complete each other like man and woman.” It was this complementary use of colours that Van Gogh became kown for and which transformed his poppy paintings into real artworks - incredibly beautiful and valuable! Here are some of them:


But modern art of the 20th Century was a vastly creative period as well. We could not, under any circumstances, exclude Georgia O'Keefe's artworks - if we're talking about poppy paintings. In her long career she became renown for her portrayal of a vivid, powerful and private sensibility in natural objects such as flowers. This combined with her use of thin paint and clear colors evoked feelings of mystical silence and put her years ahead of her time. She was one of the first artists to prove that  a woman painter could be the equal of any man holding a career in art. She broke her artistic ground by using magnification: this way, she would enlarge the painting subjects to intensify their specific identity, increase their importance, and dramatize their emotional power.  Part of the meaning behind these paintings was to prove nature's equality with industrialization. Georgia O'Keefe believed that a painting should not try to reproduce the way something looks.  Instead she thought that it should be a design in itself. "Painting is my language.  It is the way I speak" it was her statement. Georgia's most well-kown paintings are large canvases - the largest canvas that she ever painted being twenty-four feet wide. She would often cover an entire canvas with just one blossom. Here are some of her most admired works:



William Blair Bruce [Canada's first impressionist painterr, 1859-1906] - he was proclaimed “the open-air painter par excellence, an enthusiastic lover of Nature in all her moods.” Famous for his "Landscape with Poppies" (below).


John Leslie Breck (1860 - 1899) - also known as 'the father of the American impressionism). His 'coquelicots' are also famous:


Robert William Vonnoh (1858 – 1933) - American impressionist known for his portraits and landscapes. He traveled extensively between the East Coast and France, which means that, of course, he painted poppies as well:


Pál Szinyei Merse (1845 – 1920) - Hungarian painter and politicians, his works are some of the earliest in the Central-European Impressionism. Famous for (it goes without saying)...red poppy fields.



If you happen to know some other famous poppy artists that you're very fond of and consider they're worth mentioning - feel free to share with us. If not, you're welcome to share your thoughts on the Masters' works anyway. Whose paintings sings the most to you? Whose style speaks to you out loud? Whose poppies bring you absolute JOY, love and peace?


I hope all this inspired you to pick up the brush and paint some more of your brilliantly beautiful red poppies - who knows, maybe some day you'll be a famous poppy painter in the art history too!



Thank you so much for sharing these famous poppy painters and their works of art! I love Merse! My initial fascination with painting poppies was inspired by Mitsi Brown www.michellebrown.ning.com She has a loose, free way of painting that I love and have still yet to master.

Love poppy paintings -- thank you for this -- i love this class

It is a gray, cold day here so these paintings have really lifted my spirits! I was a teenager when my mother took me into New York City to see an exhibit of Monet's paintings at Giverny. It was that exhibit that made me decide to study art and art history. A year or two later, we went in to see an retrospective of O'Keeffe and it was her flower paintings that blew me away. So I am loving all these happy memories! I also love Van Gogh and had forgotten about the paintings you posted ... I have been thinking a lot about his sunflower paintings and how he chose to decorate an entire room for Gauguin with sunflowers! I am particularly drawn to his expressionistic style and am slowly loosening up a bit more in my poppies ... prepping perhaps for some sunflowers? Thank you for all of this Margot! This practice has really been feeding my soul! Totally transformed my blahs into joy :) xo Lis

Lis this is fabulous to read about your memories & childhood inspirations, but it is even more lovely to read how this workshop has transformed your "blah" into JOY - Love It!!!!

Truly inspiring Margot. I love the old masters & can swim in their paintings all day, but it is fabulous to learn about modern masters too. O'Keeffe's flowers are awe inspiring. Thankyou for doing this research & sharing with us.

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