Sunflower Mania

This flower became an emblem of good taste in the 1880s.

By Nancy Rutman


The design movement known as Aestheticism sparked an international interest in sunflowers. Inspired partly by Oscar Wilde, the poet and self-proclaimed Aesthetic expert who could often be seen wearing or carrying a sunflower, fashionable Victorian ladies and gentlemen began to decorate their homes and gardens—and themselves—with sunflower images that ranged from the realistic to the abstract. Enjoy this collection of 1880s ephemera that highlights the sunflower craze.

Diecut "scraps" like these sunflowers, printed in Germany about 1880, were sold by the millions to girls who pasted them into elaborate scrapbooks.