Fleurs de Lys: Brian Clarke

22 May - 19 June 1998


Brian Clarke returned to his fascination for the heraldic fleur de lys symbol in the exhibition Fleurs de Lys: Brian Clarke, organised in 1998 at Faggionato Fine Arts in London.

In the introduction to the accompanying catalogue, Christian de Pange wrote:

‘No one knows what the first fleurs-de-lys was: an iris, a lotus, trident, battle-axe or dove? The French royal family first endeavoured to appropriate the flower of Mary, the symbol of purity and virginity. From the beginning of the 12th century the House of Capet set about enlisting its power under the sign of the Trinity (the three petals of a flower) taking the place of the three virtues, faith, wisdom and chivalry. The Sainte Chapelle, the Pre-Raphaelites, the persistent presence of the cross in his work (it is always visible in the midst of the lilies), the strict use of heraldic colours, azure, sinople, sable and less frequently, gules. Then the lily, the best known of all charges on a coat of arms, the stained glass windows of Notre-Dame de la Fille Dieu... Is this the work of a man of the church, a scholar of the Middle Ages or that of Professor Clarke who offers his friends an armful of flowers and perhaps a lesson in spirituality? Mythical flowers for a garden of today.’