Lady with a Bouquet (Snowballs)On Display

The genre painter Charles Courtney Curran is best known for his canvases depicting beautiful ladies in pleasant settings. Here, a young woman–the artist’s wife Grace Wickham Curran–arranges a bouquet of snowballs, pausing to take in their sweet fragrance. The small scale of the painting matches the intimacy of the moment. Her delicate features, light green shawl and blossom-like hat equate her to a flower, suggesting that she is as lovely and dainty as the blooms she savors. Curran’s choice of flower is likely a deliberate one. At the time this work was painted, bouquets were used to convey messages, with each flower having a specific symbolic meaning. According to the Victorian “language of flowers,” the snowball symbolized “thoughts of heaven,” adding an air of Christian piety to this work.