Nature

Detail from Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854
Detail from Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854

Many of the flowers in the painting can be identified: The buttercup (Ranunculus acris); the daisy (Bellis perennis); the ox-eye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum); the lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor); the field poppy (Papaver dubium); the ground thistle (Cirsium acaule); crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum); common hawkbit (Leontodon taraxacoides); common ivy (Hedera helix); ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).   The flowers, executed with Maclise’s distinctive attention to detail, may have been included simply to display his versatility, skill in draughtsmanship and use of colour.  However, throughout history, the inclusion of flowers in art has symbolised hope, as well as, the fleeting nature of life and beauty.

Detail from Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', 1854
Daniel Maclise, 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife', c.1854 (watercolour)

The watercolour version of this painting depicts a calm blue sky and a brightly coloured rainbow which curves over the scene. Maclise, however, made some dramatic changes to the sky when executing the oil painting. He painted a dark and menacing sky, filled with plumes of black smoke; some suggest that this symbolises nature's discontent with the events.