Jul 31, 2010


In Europe, until the second half of the 19th century, the common waterlily was a wild plant with plain white flowers. By the 1860s, an enterprising Frenchman named Joseph Latour-Marliac began experimenting with the hybridization of these waterlilies and was soon successful in creating hardy hybrids that could be cultivated. In 1875, he opened a nursery at Temple-sur-Lot in southwest France where he continued the cultivation of waterlilies.
Latour-Marliac used imported lilies from around the world in his hybridization work and had soon created plants with gorgeous flowers in a wide range of colors. In 1889, he exhibited his waterlilies in an expansive jardin d'eau at the Paris World's Fair and created a sensation. One of the visitors to the fair was artist Claude Monet, who soon bought waterlilies from Latour-Marliac in order to create his own jardin d'eau. Monet's paintings have immortalized the 19th century fascination with these beautiful water plants.

Textile companies were soon to follow the trend and produced fabric designs with waterlilies as the central motif. Below are four Art Nouveau fabrics with varying stylization of the waterlily motif.

This next fabric is from the 1920s and incorporates both the waterlily and dragonfly motifs.

And lastly, these two photos were taken at the jardin d'eau of Latour-Marliac in France. The first shows the original basins that existed when Monet bought his water lilies.

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