Lotus and Laurel (Primary Title)

Henry Prellwitz, American, 1865 - 1940 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 30 × 60 in. (76.2 × 152.4 cm)
Framed: 41 1/2 × 71 1/2 × 3 in. (105.41 × 181.61 × 7.62 cm)

With its layered allusions to ancient Greece and Rome, as well as to Renaissance Italy, Prellwitz’s Lotus and Laurel debuted at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the 1904 world’s fair held in Saint Louis, Missouri. According to the painter, the scene represents a young man on the “road to Fortune” as he encounters “maidens of pleasure, whose symbol is the enticing lotus bloom. As he seems about to turn to the life of music, wine and love, Ambition, holding aloft the laurel wreath, recalls him.”

Prellwitz came to artistic maturity during a resurgence of interest in ancient myth, literature, and history. As increasing numbers of American artists and architects studied abroad in European academies, they were encouraged to look to antiquity and the High Renaissance for examples of timeless beauty and unity. In the full flush of the so-called American Renaissance, classical figures became widely popular in painting, sculpture, illustration, architectural ornamentation, and decorative arts.

Inscribed, dated, and signed lower left: "Copyright 1904 by Henry Prellwitz"
Gift of Joseph T. and Jane Joel Knox
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.