About: Maria Smith

I'm a copywriter and associate creative director at M&C Saatchi, Los Angeles. M&C Saatchi has created a number of ad campaigns for the Getty Center and the Getty Villa, most recently for the exhibition The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire. My job is to come up with big ideas, so I'm always looking for inspiration, and one of my favorite places to find it is the Getty.

Posts by Maria

Posted in Art & Archives, Exhibitions and Installations, Paintings, Photographs, Film, and Video

What Do Jean-Léon Gérôme and Don Draper Have in Common?

Optician's Sign (Opticien), Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1902. Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 26 in. Private Collection

You might have a hard time answering that question as you first stroll through the galleries of the exhibition The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme. But as you exit the hall featuring Gérôme’s later works, the answer lies before you… 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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