I always love to know the stories behind the roses and it seems fitting that the story of the most famous of all the world’s roses, the Peace rose, would be large enough to fill 250 pages!
Antonia Ridge’s 1965 novel ‘For The Love of a Rose’ tells not only the story of the Peace rose, and how a cutting of the rose made it out of France on the eve of World War II, arriving safely in the USA where it was successfully propagated, but it also tells the story of the Meilland family of rose breeders, who have been and still are a family owned company for six generations.
I have painted five of the Meilland roses and whilst reading the book I suddenly understood how everyone fitted in and it has given the paintings so much more meaning because now I know the family tree.
Francis Meilland was the breeder of the the large yellow and pink, Peace Rose, his father Antoine Meilland, was known as Papa Meilland and that wonderful, fragrant, deep red rose, is named after him, and Antoine’s father, Francis Dubreuil, who started his working life as a tailor, bred the deep crimson rose which bears his name. I have also painted Chicago Peace which was a sport of Peace, and most recently I enjoyed painting the Spirit of Peace which was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the naming of the original Peace rose.