ca. 1881
oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 10 3/16 × 16 1/8 in. (25.88 × 40.96 cm)
Framed: 18 7/8 × 24 7/8 × 1 3/4 in. (47.94 × 63.18 × 4.45 cm)

In 1868 Charles Ethan Porter became one of the first African American students admitted to New York’s National Academy of Design. During a formative trip to Paris in 1882, he studied firsthand Henri Fantin-Latour’s lush, intimate floral still lifes, which had a significant influence on Porter’s mature style. Chrysanthemums displays Porter’s close observation of his subject, depicting over a dozen flowers in various stages of bloom. The Asian chrysanthemum flower became wildly popular among European and American gardeners in the 1880s as a consequence of the Western world’s growing interest in Japanese culture. Similar to the nearby Quince Blossoms by Charles Caryl Coleman (90.29), a Japanese fan suggests the role played by exported goods and art in defining the cosmopolitanism of the Aesthetic movement.

Gilded Age
C. E. Porter, lower right
John Barton Payne Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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