First up was the enormous orange F. imperialis 'Rubra', but I also have a smaller 'Aurora' and the large yellow 'Lutea'. I started with 'Rubra' because it looked like the one most likely to go over first. It's quite red so I used a mix of Transparent Yellow and Scarlet Lake with the bias towards red/orange, then added Permanent Carmine for the deeper reds, I added some Violet Dioxide for the darker shadows. A little Cobalt Violet was used around the highlighted areas. The flowers become more red as they age, so this was something to keep an eye on. Where the light shines through the petals at the back I kept the mix more yellow biased and light. On the left side of the flower (shade side) the red was deeper.
The flowers are fairly simple to draw, they have huge nectaries which give the familiar 'square shouldered' look on the also seen in the F. meleagris flowers.
|The flower interior, showing the reproductive parts and large nectaries.|
|This is how the 'Rubra' the plant looked before I left for London|
Having completed the first study of ' Rubra', I sat outdoors yesterday (17th April) and made rough drawings of the yellow 'Lutea'. You can't beat the light outside for drawing and it was a beautiful day! also these plants have a very strong 'foxy' odour so outdoor working is good!
|Drawing of F. imperialis 'Lutea' made on Saturday 17th April|
|'Lutea' in bud and starting to open. The yellow becomes much richer as the flowers fully open.|
|First washes on the flowers for 'Lutea'|
|More work, layering the yellow washes and adding the greens (update 20th April).|
About the plant.
Fritillarias are all members if the Liliaceae family. F. imperialis is architecturally grand looking and the cultivated varieties I have are all derived from the species, the plant is more commonly known as the Crown Imperial or Kaiser's Crown in reference to the crown like top. It's native habitat is from Anatolia in Turkey and Iraq across the plateau to Iran up to Afghanistan and Pakistan, so covers a fairly wide geographic area.
The plant was initially called the Turkish Fritillaria being introduced from Turkey to Vienna in the 1570's, as part if the first major introduction of of plants from the Turkish Empire to Western Europe. Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Holy Roman Emperor's ambassador to Constantinople was the first to recognise the wealth of botanical specimens available from the Turkish empire in the mid 1500's and he sent bulbs of F. imperialis and other species to his friend Carolus Clusius (Charles de Ecluse) in Vienna, Clusius circulated the bulbs throughout Europe and took them to Leiden when he moved there.
|Doctor and Botanist, Clusius, distributed the bulbs of F. imperialis around Europe in the mid to late 1500's. Public domain Wikimedia Creative Commons|
The name, 'Crown' imperialis was added as an association with the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. It was the first plant featured in Sydney Parkinson's Patadise Terrestris in 1629, he wrote: The Crown Imperialis has the stately beautifulness, deserveth the first place in this our Garden of Delight'. Parkinson was aware of only one form but believed there was also a white form. The plant became hugely popular in the 17th and 18th centuries and at that time there were over a dozen varieties, including a variegated leaved vy of these have now died out but today they are popular again with several varieties available.
There are many paintings of F. imperialis, I found this beautiful illustration by the incredible Hendrik Reekers, painted in 1837, not sure which variety this is but I this is one of my favourites!
|Hendrick Reekers, oil painting of F. imperialis cultivar unknown Public domain Wikimedia Creative Commons)|
|F. uva-vulpis painted for the Nature Sketchbook exchange, will be on it's way to the Netherlands on Tuesday morning|
......More on 'Lutea' later