Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Flower Arrangement In Sync With the Season of Hibernation

By Lindsey Taylor, WSJ, Nov. 20, 2014
Red amaryllis, a protea flower and Magnolia grandiflora
 leaves echo the bouquet depicted in Meredith Frampton’s
 1928 painting ‘Marguerite Kelsey.’
Glass Vase in Rattan Cage, from $10,
Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ, Styling by Lindsey Taylor. 

Meredith Frampton’s 1928 painting ‘Marguerite Kelsey’
Tate, London/Art Resource, NY.
With winter upon us, when the comfort of our homes matters most, it seemed fitting to choose an inspiration for this month’s flower arrangement that captures an interior in warmer tones.

In my research, I stumbled on the work of the under-the-radar British painter and etcher Meredith Frampton (1894-1984), born George Vernon Meredith Frampton. (He dropped his first name so he wouldn’t be confused with his artist father, also named George.)

The younger Frampton’s paintings—mostly commissioned portraits in which the subjects have a distant, meditative gaze—hold your attention with their uncluttered, borderline surreal interiors. Often a sprig from nature or a simple bouquet appears, and his palette of muted grays, somber greens, taupe and burgundy (sometimes set off with a shock of bright red) also helps create a seductive yet calming effect that settles one’s mood.

All of these elements are present in Mr. Frampton’s 1928 painting “Marguerite Kelsey,” making it the perfect jumping-off point for an arrangement in sync with the season of hibernation. I riffed directly on the bouquet in the painting, starting with a vase that mimicked its wicker-like container. For the foliage, I picked Magnolia grandiflora to match the rich green and brown-backed leaves that Mr. Frampton depicted; they’re a chic alternative to conifers during the holidays, luxurious without being gaudy or in your face.

In the vein of Mr. Frampton’s reductive style, I used the tightly closed buds of two stems of blood-red amaryllis to echo Marguerite’s shoes. I added a creamy white protea flower to reflect the glow of her skin and the short-sleeved pale tunic dress she wears. I like an arrangement that only requires a little freshening up: Add clean water and a new cut flower from time to time, and the base of leaves will last you through the thaw.

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