5 Beautiful Butterflies Paintings

Recognized frequently for their beauty, butterflies have been making an appearance in the art world for centuries. The transformational nature of the butterfly life cycle has resulted in the animal becoming a symbol of transformation, resurrection, and hope. A number of artists have created butterflies paintings, each with unique depictions of the creature.  

 1. Evocation of Butterflies, Odilon Redon 

Born in Bordeaux, France in 1840, Redon worked extensively in pastels and oils. Redon was heavily inspired by the Japanese art of the time, with this influence being seen in his focus on natural themes. His interest in Hindu and Buddhist culture played a significant role in both his private life and artistic career. His work is considered a precursor to both the Dadaism and Surrealist movements. 

Redon's work with natural themes can be best seen in Evocation of Butterflies. The work depicts a number of butterflies of differing species against an orange background. The colors of the butterflies contrast starkly against the background as they fly in all directions. The work has a dreamlike quality that is indicative of Redon’s inspiration by abstract art. 

 2. Poppies and Butterflies, Vincent van Gogh 


Vincent van Gogh’s career spanned only ten years but produced more than 2,000 works during that time. Van Gogh painted a significant number of works focusing on natural themes, including flowers and insects. He painted a series between 1889 and 1890 that included four works depicting butterflies and one of a moth. 

One notable work from this series is Poppies and Butterflies, one of his final works before his death. The work depicts two monarch butterflies as the focal point, with a sea of red poppies in the background. Van Gogh went through an artistic boom during his time in the hospital and shortly thereafter. This work was completed shortly after van Gogh’s release from a mental institution and may symbolize his hope for change following his release. 

3. L’Amour au Papillon (Cupid with a Butterfly), William-Adolphe Bouguereau


Like Redon, Bouguereau was a French national who painted during the 19th century. Having completed more than eight hundred paintings during his life, Bouguereau enjoyed fame in both Europe and the United States. Despite widespread popularity, Bouguereau’s work was criticized heavily by the Impressionist avante-garde. 

Bouguereau’s L’Amour au Papillon features a youthful Cupid sitting atop a stone ledge. A small butterfly has landed on Cupid’s arm, as he bends around to inspect the insect. The young Cupid is seen reaching around to grasp the butterfly between his fingers, almost as if inspecting the creature. The work insights a peaceful atmosphere in its display of the Cupid’s gentle actions. 

4. Festoon of Fruit and Flowers, Jan Davidsz de Heem 


Born in Utrecht at the beginning of the seventeenth century, de Heem studied art from a young age. His father, David de Heem the Elder, was a painter as well and was influential in his son’s interest in the arts. He joined the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp in 1635, where his career began to gain significant traction.  

Jan Davidsz de Heem’s skills in realism can be seen in his work, Festoon of Fruit and Flowers. The center of the canvas depicts a pomegranate with its seeds exposed. A variety of fruits and vegetables can be seen surrounding the pomegranate, including grapes, peaches, and gourds. Flowers and vines weave through the produce and a number of butterflies fly around the edges of the canvas. The depth of color in the work helps to bring the viewer into the painting, inspiring an appreciation for nature. 

5. Rosa Centifolia, Pierre-Joseph Redoute 


Born in Belgium in 1759, Redoute was both a painter and a botanist. His works employ a high degree of realism, functioning to accurately depict the anatomy of the subject. He focused on depictions of flowers, insects, and other natural phenomena. 

His career led him to become the official court artist of Marie Antoinette, both of Napoleon’s wives, and Louis Philippe I. Redoute’s portfolio includes over 2,100 paintings, which depict more than 1,800 species. Many of Redoute’s works depicted organisms never before seen in France at the time. 

Rosa Centifolia is one of the multiple works that Redoute created of the cabbage rose. Two of the pink flowers are depicted in full bloom, with others shown just budding. A butterfly can be seen perched on the stem of one of the roses, it’s size giving a measure for the size of the roses. The work is remarkably accurate anatomically, displaying the flower and butterfly in great detail. 
Conclusion

The beauty of butterflies has been depicted in art for hundreds of years. These depictions have occurred in works across all art movements, specifically in landscapes and nature studies. These five paintings are but a few of those focusing on butterflies, with many more continuing to fascinate art lovers the world over.

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