The Secret Language of Flowers

Notes on the hidden meanings of the Louvre's flowers


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ISBN: 9782330120160 Category:

Jean-Michel Othoniel


A follow-up to The Secret Language of Flowers: Notes on the Hidden Meanings of Flowers in Art .

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Louvre pyramid, Jean-Michel Othoniel was invited to create a work relating the importance of flowers in the Museum’s eight art departments. The artist photographed the floral wealth concealed in the masterpieces of the Museum’s painting, drawing, sculpture, embroidery and enamel collections. Using this, Othoniel composes his own original herbarium, accompanied with notes on the secret language of flowers and their symbolism in the history of art.

Among the seventy details of flowers, you will find the thistle in Dürer’s selfportrait, the poppy in the Paros funerary stele, the apple sitting on a stool in The Lock by Fragonard, or the peony attached to the unfastened blouse of the young woman in Greuze’s Broken Pitcher. The work also introduces us to lesser-known details in works, offering a magnificent treasure hunt for visitors of the museum.

Amid this vast prairie spangled with symbolic flowers, the artist asks this question: If there could be only one, which would be the Louvre’s flower? A question to which the artist himself offers his own response.

Additional information

Weight 411 g
Dimensions 21.9 x 13.8 cm
Publisher name Actes Sud
Publication date 16 September 2019
Number of pages 208
Format Hardback
Dimensions 21.9 x 13.8 cm
Weight 411 g


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Jean-Michel Othoniel lives and works in Paris. From drawing to sculpture, installation to photography and writing to performance, he has invented a world with multiple contours. Early in his artistic career he explored materials with reversible qualities, such as sulfur and wax, before moving onto glass in 1993. Today his works have an architectural dimension and are frequently commissioned for exhibition in public or private gardens around the world.