Sometime or other around the time I was in high school (dates for which are kept in the secret vault), I was flipping through the pages of a magazine — most likely Ladies’ Home Journal or Women’s Day or McCall’s — and found a sentimental painting of a rural fence post with a stand of chicory growing next to it.  I fell in love with that picture and decided to copy it.  Though I had already been a frequent visitor to the National Gallery of Art and was already a young enthusiast for French Impressionism, it was the not-famous picture of chicory that I copied rather than a work by a master (even among master paintings there are ones that wouldn’t be so difficult to copy). 

Cannot say what it was about that image that caught hold of me, but it’s overt sentiment didn’t bother me.  I was reading McCall’s after all.  It was like a Hallmark card.  And I loved it.  (You don’t explain love.)

Feeling very nostalgic now, I was looking round the internet for similar kinds of imagery and stumbled upon this picture by artist John Alexander.  All it lacks is the fence post.  These things have perennial appeal, and I’m happy to report that another artist does something similar Richard Tiberius.  He’s got chicory!  I think these flowers in the Alexander are actually violets.  But close enough for jazz ….

It’s good to let yourself fall in love, and you really cannot argue with love either.  I don’t make copies of sentimental pictures anymore but, oh boy, what a debt of gratitude I feel to — somebody — whoever it was who painted those flowers by the sentimental roadside of  imagination — because that’s what got me started in the year 19**!

I saw a large patch of chicory this past week in front of a frat house of the local university and was thinking today that I should photograph it and do something with it.  Alas!  The lawn mower!  So, once again one learns that you have to seize the day!  But I’m on chicory alert mode now.  The world has more chicory in it, and I won’t be mowed a second time, by golly.

[Top of the post:  Moonlight Garden 2004, by John Alexander, b. 1945]

6 thoughts on “Beloved Chicory

  1. pour moi la chicorée est une salade frisée et amère, comme les endives et ces jolies petites fleurs bleues des “corn flower”. Je ne connaissais pas le nom en français.
    Instructif, apres avoir regardé sur wikipedia…
    merci a l’artiste botaniste

  2. Wr — Oh, dear. Now the pressure is on! Both to paint and to stay ahead of those lawn mowers. However, I have been thinking much the same myself, more and more, that I’d love to paint these wildflowers. Seeing Alexander’s painting and the Tiberius one also: isn’t it revealing how the most commonplace images can be the most challenging sometimes? I believe that is something you deal with in your art routinely — taking the kinds of things that one sees everywhere in nature and interpreting them in a personal way. Maybe you should do chicory too? We could start a whole motif thing going!
    Thanks for coming by to visit again.

  3. Benedicte
    Je ne sais pas si la chicoree dans le tableau est la meme que dans la salade. Peut-etre? Mais, apropos de l’art, je rapelle Degas disant: “Avec une salade aux herbes et deux vieux pinceaux pique dedans, est-ce qu’on n’aurait pas de quoi faire tous les paysages du monde?”(!) On ne mange pas cette salade, vous savez ….
    (Et biensur Degas n’avait pas dit cela a moi en particuliere!)

  4. WR Jones, Driving by the frat house, I discovered that one little patch of chicory escaped the mower so I think I’ll be able to do my interpretation! I’ll keep you posted. Thank you, again, for your comment.

  5. cette chicorée sauvage est a l’origine des autres variétés, salades, endives et celle comme psudo-café.
    Belle phrase de M. Degas, artistiquement culinaire.

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