Drawing primarily from Telfair Museums’ permanent collection, Lingua Flora explores the use of flowers in fine and decorative arts from the late 18th through the early 20th centuries. Flowers and other botanical subjects are associated with multiple visual languages during this period. Natural historians’ precise depictions of individual plants became popular motifs in a variety of media. Expanding global trade spread the transfer of subjects and design types across cultures, creating a lingua franca, or a linking language, in imagery. Flowers’ symbolic associations also grew, and authors of “languages of flowers” wrote about them in poems and guidebooks. Works of art that incorporate plant life demonstrate the wide impact of these varying cultural phenomena. With this close examination of all things floral, this exhibition will shed new light on ceramics, silver, textiles, and works on paper in Telfair’s collection, many of which will be on view at the Jepson Center for the first time.
This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Elyse D. Gerstenecker, PhD, curator of decorative arts.