Flower Vase, 1938,
Oil on canvas, 101X127 cm.
Signed and dated.
The authenticity of this painting has been confirmed by Mrs. Mira Chen, the artist’s granddaughter.
Ludwig Blum, known for his expertise in landscape paintings, also painted a number of flower paintings. In his comprehensive exhibition at Bet Hatfuzot (Ramat Aviv, 2009), two flower paintings from 1944 were exhibited – A ”Vase with Chrysanthemums” and a ”Vase with Roses”.
Flower paintings were (and possibly still are) highly attractive for buyers and Blum – who was one of the only Israeli artists of his generation that made a living only from the sale of paintings – saw nothing wrong by supplying that demand.
For a pleasant person was he. This painting is one of two flower paintings he painted in 1928. But it is unique in its luscious variety of flowers. He places the flowers in the center of the canvas, establishing the balance to the composition with the diamond shape of the table, two symmetrical squares at its sides – the electric heating system and the fireplace.
This was a permanent trick by Blum: an infrastructure of a round, rectangle or diamond shape table as a base to a vase. And so, on the foundations of geometrical shapes in this painting Blum places the large and colorful ”fan” of flowers. Abundance never before and a never again seen in flower paintings by the artist: lilies, snapdragons, chrysanthemums and more – flowers that are beyond identification.
Blum probably collected and assembled this bunch of flowers specifically for this painting, a challenge in itself. Here, as opposed to the toned down chrysanthemums or roses (six-seven) from 1944, or another painted in 1928 (approx. 35 flowers), are almost one hundred flowers!
Perhaps a celebration of blossoming, spring, Eros, by the 37 year old, young artist.
However, Blum, who remembered well the flower paintings he saw at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, prior to his arrival in Israel in 1923, made an exception to his usual avoidance of signs of pain and grief, and in the manner of allegorical flower paintings of the 17th century, he adds a few petals that have fallen on the table, echoing the ”vanitas”, the emptiness of earthly life and unworthy of earthly goods.
Nonetheless, the Blum-esque optimism prevails: the floral joy makes a Baroque eruption, supported by striking brushwork in the background, emphasized even more in the painting from 1928. And so, instead of a banal picture of flowers, this painting cries out ”Hallelujah!” to the strength of life, its beauty and sensuality, the artist defies the ”memento mori” (a reminder of death”) symbolized by the fallen flower.
(Translated and adapted from Gidon Ofrat).