Semper Augustus by Brandon Flye

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Brandon Flye

Semper Augustus


105.41 x 58.42 cm | 41 1/2 x 23 in

Oil on panel

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This large imaginative painting is a homage to my training in the Dutch Old Masters technique and the country that these historic artists came from. It is also a celebration of one of the most intriguing tales of the Dutch Golden Age, “Tulip Mania”.

The tulips shown in this painting no longer exist, but in the 17th century they were the most coveted flowers in the entire world. They were so expensive that you could buy a mansion for the price of a single bulb. Like diamonds or gold, they were sold by weight. This story of beauty, obsession and tragedy remains a poignant parable for the modern age.

Part of what fascinated me about this tale was the irrational value attached to this object of beauty. As an artist, I see an obvious parallel to the valuation of art. How is one painting determined to be of more value than another? They are both made of pigment and linen. What is it about a Canova sculpture that can move one to tears, or a Semper Augustus tulip that can create such a mad obsession? As an artist, I am well aware that a painting can be more than a mere image. It can be a vehicle that transports one to another place.