Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers, The Chrysler Museum of Art.

Images: Edward Jean Steichen – In Exaltation of Flowers, 1910-1913. Tempera and gold leaf on canvas, Courtesy Art Bridges. Installation shots courtesy of The Boca Raton Museum of Art.

These seven canvases by Edward Steichen (1879-1973) were created between 1910 and 1914 as a mural series to decorate the foyer of a townhouse on Park Avenue in New York City. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Meyer, Jr., commissioned the work to be more than decorative but also biographical. The panels feature the Meyers’ family and their close associates. Steichen himself was a member of this collective, and thus had an intimate understanding of the temperaments and interests of the group.

In each panel, Steichen placed alongside each sitter botanical specimens that aligned with their dominant personality traits. Steichen drew particular inspiration for these floral personifications from the book The Intelligence of Flowers (1907) by Symbolist poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck.

This was an extension of the practice among the group of using floral names to address one another in correspondence and in humorous and creative ways. The layered meanings embedded in the mural were not readily apparent to those outside the Meyers’ social circle. – James A. Michener Art Museum

Press Release:


“Steichen’s mural presents a delightful vision of artists and friends, centered on their love of flowers and nature,” said Corey Piper, Ph.D., Brock Curator of American Art. “Objects from the Chrysler’s photography and glass collections supplement the fascinating stories of the figures that appear within the expansive painting and the artist who created it.”

Link to the Museum Website

Assistant Curator Kelli Bodle from The Boca Raton Museum (previous installation), describes the exhibition.
Group seated at a table outdoors. Identification on front (handwritten): Eugene Meyers Mount Kisco 1912. Identification on verso (handwritten): Marin, Walkowitz, Stieglitz. Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 Stieglitz, Emily (Mrs. Alfred Stieglitz) Walkowitz, Abraham, 1880-1965 Marin, John, 1870-1953 Rhoades Katharine, 1885-1965 Meyer, Eugene Ernst, Agnes (Mrs. Eugene Meyer) Haviland, Paul, Unidentified photographer, 1912. Archives of American Art, Abraham Walkowitz papers, 1904-1966
Group of artists seated on the ground, among the trees. Identification on verso (handwritten): Left to right – Paul HavilandAbraham WalkowitzKatharine N. Rhoades, Emily Stieglitz (Mrs. Alfred Stieglitz), Agnes Ernst (Mrs. Eugene Meyer), Alfred Stieglitz, J. B. Kerfoot, John Marin. Property of Walkowitz family. Published in: Archives of American Art Journal v. 6, no. 2, p. 15; v. 40, no. 3-4, p. 36. 

Long form articles:


The Intelligence of Flowers

Maeterlinck, Maurice

Published by State University of New York Press 2007-11-01 (2007)

ISBN 10: 0791472744 ISBN 13: 9780791472743

Edward Steichen : The Early Years

Joel Smith

Published by Princeton University Press November 1999 (1999)

ISBN 10: 0691048738 ISBN 13: 9780691048734

Eugene Meyer

Pusey, Merlo John

Published by Knopf

ISBN 10: 0394478975 ISBN 13: 9780394478975

OUT OF THESE ROOTS : The Autobiography of an American Woman

Agnes E. Meyer

Published by Little, Brown & Co., Boston (1953)

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