Art history is full to the brim of sunflower portraits, across all manner of different styles and art movements. The colours and textures of this iconic flower make it ideal for artists across Europe and the rest of the world. Georgia O'Keeffe was no different in that respect, and took advantage of her connection to local New York florists to access this stunning plant for her work. A Sunflower from Maggie, 1937, is pictured here and is perhaps the most famous of all O'Keeffe's sunflower paintings.
In A Sunflower for Maggie, Georgia O'Keeffe used a light background colour which is carefully repeated in the petals and helps to firmly contrast against the flower. Greens are also repeated in different parts of the flower to produce a well-balanced artwork which was again composed as if creating a photograph. Margaret Johnson, wife of Robert Wood Johnson, is the Maggie in question. She was a friend of Georgia from her time living in New Mexico, and her husband was president of the multi-national pharmaceutical firm, Johnson and Johnson. Another artwork on this theme was Sunflower, New Mexico, I, 1935 which came two years earlier than A Sunflower from Maggie and also portrays the flower in a different style. That painting is now a part of the The Cleveland Museum of Art collection, who hold several notable O'Keeffe paintings.
This painting was also part of the Georgia O'Keeffe and the Southwestern Still Life exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2015, alongside White Flower. Regarding her Sunflower from Maggie painting, it was one of six flower paintings that she painted in 1937. Hollyhocks, amaryllis and this sunflower were featured out of around two dozen canvases in total. Her sunflower paintings are not particularly close-up or oversized, she instead reproduced the natural beauty of the flower relatively faithfully, both in terms of life-size and also in avoiding being overly abstract.