About: Michael J. Ripps

I studied history at the Universities of Virginia and Cambridge and later read art history at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and the University of Oxford. My doctoral thesis (Oxford), which I defended in the fall of 2010, examined the trade in 17th-century Dutch pictures in the period 1882 to 1914. I'm currently affiliated with the J. Paul Getty Museum's Paintings Department (through May 2012), where I'm assisting in preparations for the Museum's online catalog.

Posts by Michael J.

Posted in Art, Art & Archives, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

Anatomy of a Horse Painting

The Piebald Horse / Paulus Potter

In George Stubbs’s Brood Mares and Foals, which arrived at the Museum in October as a temporary anonymous loan, horses are sympathetically portrayed within the bucolic landscape of the English countryside. The overriding mood is idyllic, as a small coterie… More»

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      A Brief History of the Fleur-de-lis in Art

      The fleur-de-lis, a familiar symbol with varied meanings and a rather obscure origin.

      If you read the labels of objects in museums bearing the fleur-de-lis (in French, fleur de lys, pronounced with the final “s”), you might notice that they were all made in France before the French Revolution of 1789. 

      What’s less apparent is that the fleur-de-lis marks objects that bear witness to a dramatic history of monarchy, democracy, and war: they speak to the inherent power of trappings commissioned for and by France’s pre-revolutionary kings.

      Adopted as a royal emblem in France by the 1100s, the fleur-de-lis can be traced to early Frankish monarchs including Clovis I, who converted to Christianity in 496, and the renowned Charlemagne. 

      A French word, fleur-de-lis translates literally to “lily flower.” This is appropriate given the association of lilies with purity (and the Virgin Mary) and given that France has long been known as the “Eldest Daughter of the Church.” In truth, the stylized flower most closely resembles a yellow iris. 

      As a heraldic symbol used in the arms of the French monarchy, the fleur-de-lis often appears in yellow or gold tones and set on a blue shield. 

      Given its intimate royal associations, the fleur-de-lis invoked the ire of revolutionaries even before the fall of the monarchy in 1792. In addition to toppling royal statues, vandals chipped away at crowns and fleurs-de-lis adorning the façades of buildings.

      Full blog post on the Getty Iris here.

      04/28/16

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