Robert Louis Raymond Duflos (French, born 1898)
Green Vase with White and Red Carnations
Oil on canvas, 21 3/4 x 18 1/8 in.

In addition to the nude studies that he is best known for, Duflos also created portraits, landscapes, marine paintings, and floral still lifes such as Green Vase with White and Red Carnations, which depicts a pale-green vase filled with red, white, and pink carnations before a neutral background. Flower painting had been practiced since the 17th century, when such images became popular in the Netherlands. In early floral painting, each flower held a rich symbolic significance, often of a religious nature. Carnations reflect different types of love: the dark red symbolizes deep love, the white denotes pure love, and the pink are associated with motherly love (according to Christian lore, the pink carnation was the first, created by Mary’s tears of sorrow as her son carried the cross). Duflos’s still life can also be seen in the light of the 20th-century artistic trend known as the “call to order.” After decades of avant-garde developments and experimentation with abstraction, many European artists returned to representational forms in the 1920s as a reaction to the chaos, irrationality, and destruction of WWI.