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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Dwight Primiano.

Red Flower

Artist: Joseph Stella (1877 - 1946)
Date: 1929
57 1/2 x 38 1/4 in. (146.1 x 97.2 cm)
Framed: 67 3/4 × 48 1/2 × 1 3/4 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2006.102
Signed: l.l., in black paint: Jos. Stella l.r., in red paint: Jos. Stella verso, on canvas, in black paint: Paris Nov. 1929 / Joseph Stella.
On View
Accession Number: 2006.102
ProvenanceEstate of the Artist, 1946; (Richard York Gallery, New York, NY); Phyllis "Felisa" Caputo Vanoff [1925-2014] and Nick Vanoff [1929-1991], 1986; to (Sotheby's, Inc., New York, NY), 2006; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2006

Label TextAround 1929, Italian-born artist Joseph Stella began a group of tropical flower paintings characterized by vibrant color, symmetry, and a distinct air of mystery. An immense red amaryllis with widely spread petals dominates Red Flower. Two exotic birds resembling peacocks flank the flower, raising their elegant heads to its blossom as if in reverence. In the background, a dark, brooding palette, heavily encrusted paint, and richly patterned foliage add to the atmosphere.

Red Flower reflects a wide range of influences. Stella visited Italy often during the 1920s and was fascinated by Neapolitan peasant textiles and embroidery, which featured vibrant colors, symmetrical patterns, and abstracted forms. Visits to North Africa, Barbados, and more locally, to the Bronx Botanical Gardens and New York Zoological Gardens, also provided inspiration for his tropical paintings.