Friday, March 11, 2011

Wide Open

A perspective proposal below and the search for more sources, always ongoing- A wealth of information to choose from, direction seems to be the real question. Where should the research turn from here?
Hyacinthe Rigaud is the artist who painted the famouse portrait of Louis XIV and was responsible for creating portraits that captured the essence of importance. Which really helped to represent or embody this idea of absolutism a God given right to rule. This article helps to give shape and offer a connection between having objects of regalia- in this case the kings robe to verify that even if we do not see images of the fleur-de-lis as often they had some sort of impact on either those who design clothing bearing the image of the fleur-de-lis or those who unconsciously wear this type of clothing without knowing the history or reason why but who seem to choose these images because of their regalness.
Osborne, Harold and Marc Jordan . "Rigaud, Hyacinthe." The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 5 Mar. 2011 .
This clip from Antiques Roadshow may help in the discovery between the images transition from French to American
George Washington's Inaugural Ball Silk Sash, ca. 1789
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $6,000 /Appraised on: June 12, 2010 /Appraised in: San Diego, California /Appraised by: Leigh Keno /Category: Folk Art /Episode Info: San Diego, Hour 2 #1505 /Originally Aired: January 31, 2011 /IMAGE: 1 of 1 Form: Sash /Material: Silk /Period / Style: 18th Century

Artist/ jack of all trades by the name of Juste-Aurele Meissonnier used the Fleur-de-lis as his trademark. This article shows another usage of the Fleur-de-lis. It contributes to the overall ambiguity of the image which perhaps after I research more will be able to string some thread and see any similarities in the overall usage of the Fleur-de-lis.
Elaine Evans Dee. "Meissonnier, Juste-Aurèle." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 3 Mar. 2011 .

[French, ‘lily flower’] a heraldic flower with three petals forming a stylized lily. It was a central emblem in the French royal arms from as early as the 12th century and was used in ornament from the Gothic period onwards. It was also the emblem of the powerful Italian Farnese family and of the city of Florence.
"fleur-de-lis." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms. Oxford Art Online. 3 Mar. 2011
John A. Goodall. "Regalia." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 25 Feb. 2011

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, the final day of feasting and festing before Ash Wednesday, when many Christians begin their fasting for Lent. Mardi Gras is observed around the world; the American celebration dates back to 1699.

From Taste of homes magazine Feb/Mar 2010
The article talks about what regalia is and how it is depicted and the image of prestige it creates for the person it attempts to define. I have found out what constitues as an object of regalia cheifly a sword, crown, sceptre, rod, orb, robes, rings, arm bands. Crowns were worn by so many people- kings of arms, crown princes, archdukes, dukes of grand dukes, and popes. Crowns were not used very often or for everyday wear but for more ceremonial purposes such as moment of crowning. The reason that we know about Louis XIV using the fleur de lis as an object of regalia at all is because an artist (Hyacinthe Rigaud) preserved an object of regalia (kings robe) in a portrait painting of the king. Here are some highlights from the rest of the article
John A. Goodall. "Regalia." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 1 Mar. 2011

THE fleur-de-lis is such a hopeless puzzle that grave authorities regard it as the corrupted figure of a frog, others recognize a phallic emblem, others a bee with wings spread ; this last view com mended itself strongly to Napoleon. There are serious arguments and illustrations in favor of each origin; the one fact tolerably cer tain is
that Frankish kings bore a cognizance which has developed into the fleur-de-lis,
as soon as history gets a clear view of them. Almost certainly, however, that cognizance was not a flower of any sort in the beginning. The history of the double-headed eagle in Europe is known well enough. The German Emperor Conrad
saw it at Con stantinople when crusading in II47. Learning that the device represented sovereignty over East and West, he thought it adapted to his own
case, and annexed it. The counts of Flanders were equally struck in the next
Crusade, and followed the same course. It was finally appropriated by the House
of Austria in I345; after ward Prussia and Russia yielded to the fascination of
its beauty. But when we quit these modern inanities and seek the double-headed
eagle in its native home, we are led into the very beginning of things. Tracing
the symbol upward, it is found as a common orna ment among the Mamelukes of
Egypt, evidently introduced by the Mesopotamian artists whom they favored. In
the Museum at South Kensington are several exquisite works of that period
showing the double-headed eagle. It has' been suggested that Saladin bore it.
His cognizance was certainly an eagle, but one may think that Christian
chroniclers would have mentioned it had the bird been double-headed. But the
device appears at an earlier date on the coinage of the Prince of Singar, in
Mesopotamia; also it was sculptured on the walls of the city of Amia in that
region. Passing an indefinite number of centuries, we find it on. the golden
orna ments of Mycenae. But the original is identified, so far, among the most
mysterious of peoples, the Hittites. With them it was a very holy and powerful
symbol evidently, though the significance is not yet ascertained. On the
enormous monoliths of granite before the palace at Eyuk double-headed eagles are
carved, holding an animal. So in that wondrous cave-temple of Borghas-Keui,
where the gods are sculptured in procession, two of them ride upright on the
mystic bird. It is carved above the gates of cities and on their massive walls.
We shall know more, doubtless, in good time.-Pall Mall Gazette.

Fleur-de-Lis and Double-Headed Eagle
Pall Mall Gazette
The Collector and Art CriticVol. 1, No. 2 (May 1, 1899), p. 31
Article Stable URL:

From this source I think a connection can be made between the French translation of the Fleur –de-lis flower of light and Jesus Christ being the light of the world. There appears to be symbolism beyond the image. A line from A Carol of the Fleur-de-lis

Mary hath borne the Fleur-de-lys on Christmas night, when it was cold, our Lady
lay among beastes bold, And there she bore Jesu, Joseph told, And there she bare
Jesu, And there-of came the Fleur-de-lys.
Perhaps this is why the image is carried across cultures and time and given such importance.

A Carol of the Fleur-de-LysAuthor(s): Hubert Du PlessisSource: The Musical Times, Vol. 94, No. 1327 (Sep., 1953), pp. 1-8Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 10/03/2011

The power of the visual image is astounding and the impact an image has on humanity is even more so. How can one image be so successful that it in time comes to represent so many things? Fleur –de- lis is an image with many faces, how it has changed over time is most intriguing. The fleur-de-lis is seen in art, fashion, history, and has been a major part of culture. A symbol of many meanings to all who come across the fleur de lys. The questions I would like to address; what makes the image of the fleur -de-lis so successful? How does it lend itself to so many sources without weakening its strength or impact?Why do we never tire of seeing this image or fail to notice its existence? Does the appearance of the fluer de lis today have any possible connections with how the image was represented in times past?
Sightings to date:
notebook, book cover, Mardi Gras, De Loach, George Washington's Inaugural Ball Silk Sash


  1. Misty,

    I posted you a long comment focusing on the Pall Mall source yesterday and the relation of the flower-of-light motif to much earlier, more universal, rock-art symbology, but I don't see it posted today. Did you at least get a chance to read it?

  2. Misty,
    I love this stage in a research project, the one where information comes flooding in (as this and the last couple of posts indicate).
    As you collect, you'll want simultaneously to think about possible stories/arguments/narrative threads.
    Keep up the good work.