The Symbolism of Flowers

Portinari-Altar, Gesamtansicht (1476-78) painted by Hugo van der Goes on commission for Sant d’Edigio chapel in the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, Florence, Italy.

The flowers in the vase (center front, see detail) were chosen for their symbolism:  violets for humility; blue and white irises for purity and heavenliness; lilies for the symbol of Mary and her purity; columbines for the Holy Spirit; and three red carnations for love and the Trinity.