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Rose-Art & Symbolism

ritau
05-22
A rose is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears. There are over three hundred species and thousands of cultivars. They form a group of plants that can be erect shrubs, climbing, or trailing, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers vary in size and shape and are usually large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows and reds. Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and northwestern Africa. Species, cultivars and hybrids are all widely grown for their beauty and often are fragrant. Roses have acquired cultural significance in many societies. Rose plants range in size from compact, miniature roses, to climbers that can reach seven meters in height. Different species hybridize easily, and this has been used in the development of the wide range of garden roses.


The long cultural history of the rose has led to it being used often as a symbol. In ancient Greece, the rose was closely associated with the goddess Aphrodite. In the Iliad, Aphrodite protects the body of Hector using the "immortal oil of the rose" and the archaic Greek lyric poet Ibycus praises a beautiful youth saying that Aphrodite nursed him "among rose blossoms". The second-century AD Greek travel writer Pausanias associates the rose with the story of Adonis and states that the rose is red because Aphrodite wounded herself on one of its thorns and stained the flower red with her blood. Book Eleven of the ancient Roman novel The Golden Ass by Apuleius contains a scene in which the goddess Isis, who is identified with Venus, instructs the main character, Lucius, who has been transformed into a donkey, to eat rose petals from a crown of roses worn by a priest as part of a religious procession in order to regain his humanity.

Following the Christianization of the Roman Empire, the rose became identified with the Virgin Mary. The color of the rose and the number of roses received has symbolic representation. The rose symbol eventually led to the creation of the rosary and other devotional prayers in Christianity.

Ever since the 1400s, the Franciscans have had a Crown Rosary of the Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the 1400s and 1500s, the Carthusians promoted the idea of sacred mysteries associated with the rose symbol and rose gardens. Albrecht Dürer's painting The Feast of the Rosary (1506) depicts the Virgin Mary distributing garlands of roses to her worshippers.
Roses symbolised the Houses of York and Lancaster in a conflict known as the Wars of the Roses.

Roses are a favored subject in art and appear in portraits, illustrations, on stamps, as ornaments or as architectural elements. The Luxembourg-born Belgian artist and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté is known for his detailed watercolours of flowers, particularly roses.

Henri Fantin-Latour was also a prolific painter of still life, particularly flowers including roses. The rose 'Fantin-Latour' was named after the artist.

Other impressionists including Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir have paintings of roses among their works.

In 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to make the rose the floral emblem of the United States.
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