Fleur Cowles’ Flair for Flowers

2 Min Read

Cowles’s open-minded approach even extended to the vessels. While she loved Venetian glass and fine ormolu, she saw any kitchen item that had some kind of hole in it as fair game. Though she eschewed most rules, Cowles did offer a few anti-rule directives of her own: “Liberate your imagination,” “Follow your intuition;” “Don’t be inhibited,” and my favorite, “Improvise, improvise!” Among her own artistic improvisations were cheetahs and tigers floating amidst flowers in a Dali-esque manner, perhaps inspired by the 1959 biography, The Case of Salvador Dali, she wrote of her friend. Surrealistic effects aside, Cowles described her style of painting as “magical realism”—in other words, emanating from her imagination, not painted from nature.

Two years after our first encounter, Cowles and I met again. She was now 99 and mostly confined to her bedroom. Her husband, Tom Montague Meyer, brought in tea for the three of us and very carefully monitored the length of our chat to prevent tiring her. Dressed in a beautiful bed jacket, Cowles reminisced and told me about the folding screen in her room called Fête Champêtre that was painted by Marcel Vertès. As I sensed she needed rest, I told her my teenage nieces begged me to ask just one question: “What advice would you give young women today?” Without hesitation, she replied, “Select who you talk to, select what you talk about, select how long you talk…select, select, select.” I thanked her and said goodbye, knowing it was probably our last meeting. Two years later, at the age of 101, she died, leaving behind her legacy of eccentricity and creativity

Share This Article
Leave a comment