Even during his later abstract period, Mondrian often created realistic depictions of flowers, partly because he needed to earn a living. In this drawing of a chrysanthemum, he paid a great deal of attention to the details. The individual petals have been reproduced with great care and precision. Shading has been created through the use of fine parallel lines. It is only possible to see from close up that the head of the flower has been drawn within the geometric outline of an octagon, the construction lines of which can still be seen. Compared with the rest of the flower, the stalk has been drawn in a remarkably robust style, using a charcoal stick. Mondrian did not choose this particular flower purely by chance. The artist was a student of theosophy, a doctrine that combined eastern and western religions. Within theosophy, the chrysanthemum was seen as a symbol of growth, blossoming and decay; a complete life cycle.
© 2010 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Virginia

Makers

Translated title

Chrysanthemum

Collection

Drawings

Production date

circa 1909

Library

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Material

charcoal, Siberian chalk and gouache on paper

Object number

A 5097