Flower paintings were a mainstay of Morandi’s artistic practice. His Flowers of 1916 reveals just how closely Morandi studied past examples of this genre.
Morandi’s Flowers is a close approximation of the Bouquet of Flowers with China Asters and Tokyos by Henry Rousseau (b. 1844, Laval; d. 1910, Paris). In the years just before Morandi made this flower painting, a pamphlet was published in Italy that included an illustration of Rousseau’s Bouquet of Flowers with China Asters and Tokyos. The pareddown palette and flat background in Morandi’s rendition remind us that his source was this illustration, and not the original.
Like Morandi, Rousseau rarely traveled. The tropical vegetation in his images of flowers—as well as in his landscapes—was inspired by visits to the Botanical Garden in Paris, rather than trips to the jungle. Morandi experienced this garden too, through Rousseau’s artworks.