Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cactus Plant in Flower

Object Name:
ca. 1800
Made in India, probably Calcutta
Opaque watercolor on paper
Painting H. 34.6 in. (87.9 cm) W. 18.1 in. (45.9 cm) Frame H. 49.6 in. (126 cm) W. 33.1 in. (84 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2012
Accession Number:
Not on view
The night-blooming Cereus cactaceae only displays its beautiful fragrant blossoms in the moonlight, which is reflected by the flower’s white petals, thereby attracting various pollinators. As is typical for such botanical studies, the plant is shown in several stages of development within one image. The cactus plant sends out a bud, which blooms as a white flower. After it is pollinated by a moth or even a bat, the flower dies and droops, and a bright red fruit grows from the base of the bud, which can be plucked and eaten.
Private Collection, London (until 1984; sold to Galloway); [ Francesca Galloway, London, 1984–2012; sold to MMA]
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