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Remembrance Day Poppies in Painting

John Singer Sargent, Poppies,1886, private collection

Special Occasion And News

Remembrance Day Poppies in Painting

Remembrance Day is a memorial remembering all the soldiers who died in the First World War. It was inaugurated by King George V in 1919 on November, 11, a date of signing the 1918 armistice. In the UK it is known as the Poppy Day and many people wear for the entire month of November a simple poppy pinned to the lapels of their coats as a sign of remembrance and respect for veterans. We’re joining in the observance of this day presenting you most beautiful poppy paintings:

Why poppies?

John Constable, Study of poppies, ca. 1832, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, remembrence day poppies in painting

John Constable, Study of poppies, ca. 1832, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Many fields in Flanders, which in World War I had become sites of most atrocious battles, the summer after the hostilities turned bright red. Although red poppies had grown there before the war, the springing up flowers quickly became a new peaceful symbol for all the blood spilled in the war.

A poppy poem

Vincent van Gogh, Red Poppies and Daisies, 1890, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, remembrance day poppies in painting

Vincent van Gogh, Red Poppies and Daisies, 1890, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

The custom of wearing a red poppy originated in the United States when a university professor from the University of Georgia Moina Micheal, swore to wear a red poppy after she had read a poem by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields”. In the UK, poppies were worn the first time in 1921 during the official anniversary services.

Vincent van Gogh, Field with Poppies, 1890, Gemeentemuseum den Haag, Hague, Netherlands


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A white Poppy Alternative

Claude Monet, White Poppy,1883, private collection, remembrance day poppies in painting

Claude Monet, White Poppy,1883, private collection

A controversy arose around a red poppy which according to some became a symbol for British isolationism since the red poppy remembered only British soldiers. Pacifists and faith organisations advocated the use of white poppy instead which would stand for casualties of all wars. First conceived by the Co-operative Women’s Guild in 1933, white poppies, with the added meaning of a hope for the end of all wars, were frequently worn by the widows and children of dead soldiers.

Mary Cassatt, Red poppies, 1874 - 1880, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, remembrance day poppies in painting

Mary Cassatt, Red poppies, 1874 – 1880, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA


If you want to read more about the art centred on the topic of WW1, click here:

Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One


Sir William Orpen The Official Artist of The First World War

World War 1: 5 Artists Who Became Soldiers

Lear more:

 


Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

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