LONDON EVENTS – Flowers take over the National Gallery

Finishing touches added to the installation by the florists. Photo by Catherine Pound Photography

Finishing touches added to the installation by the florists. Photo by Catherine Pound Photography

Giant installation from celebrates the living floral inspiration behind Dutch artists’ still life paintings

Visitors to the National Gallery will be met with a stunning floral display of epic proportions, as a 35-square metre living painting goes on display on the gallery’s West lawn today (2nd June 2016). Made using 26,430 real cut flowers, it was commissioned to mark the organisation’s partnership with the National Gallery’s Dutch Flowers exhibition by Funnyhowflowersdothat – a not-for-profit initiative from the Flower Council of Holland which aims to inform, inspire and encourage more people to enjoy cut flowers.

The truly larger-than-life art installation is in homage to one of the masterpieces featured in the collection. The painting selected is a floral masterpiece by Dutch artist Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder – A Still Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase (1609-10). At 6.2 metres tall by 4.6 metres wide, the living painting dwarfs the 68.6cm by 50.7cm original canvas and was a combined effort of almost 30 florists who took over two days to arrange.


The floral masterpiece will be on display outside the National Gallery from Thursday 2nd until Monday 6th June and is a feat of nature as well as engineering:

·      The structure weighs 1,815 kilograms

·      It is made using 100 blocks of Oasis florist’s foam with 26,430 stems of 26 different varieties. 37 different colours were used to create depth and shading

·      Flowers being used include six tulip varieties, four varieties of peonies, three varieties of carnations, six varieties of freesias, six varieties of calla lily, and five varieties of roses

·      Over the course of the five days, the flowers will be replenished twice bringing the total number of blooms to 52,950

·      The complete installation stands 8.2 metres from the ground; about same height as two average London double decker buses


Painted in 16-09-1610 by Ambrosius Brosschaert the Elder, A Still-Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase depicts a vast selection of blooms including lilies, tulips, roses, and carnations. The artist took regular inspiration from botanical illustrations and the flowers in his painting are depicted with incredibly lifelike realism. His painting is a masterful play on real and still life, context, composition, and creativity.

Chanel de Kock, UK Marketing Manager from said: “We are excited to be working with the National Gallery for this very special display as we both bring joy and inspiration through beauty. Artistic representations of flowers have been a central theme in the history of art, with the blooms in those paintings becoming iconic and timeless in their own right. We want visitors to look at flowers more closely, almost the same way these master painters did. People visiting the Gallery from the UK and around the world will be able to see these paintings brought together in one room, and also have the chance to experience a very special kind of bouquet.”

Betsy Wieseman from the National Gallery added, “Our Dutch Flowers exhibit presents an overview of works by every major figure in the genre, including Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Jan van Huysum, and Rachel Ruysch, providing visitors a chance to admire their stylistic and technical characteristics,and the  exquisite detail of their paintings. are the ideal sponsor for this display and they have chosen the perfect painting to be brought to life with the beauty of real cut flowers.”

Visitors will also be able to win tickets to The National Gallery’s Painters’ Paintings exhibition and places to a flower arranging workshop at the National Gallery on 2nd July 2016, simply post or repost a picture of this floral masterpiece to @flowersdothat using the hashtag #DutchFlowers to enter.

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