A prominent painter of the Luminist movement, Martin Johnson Heade focused on floral still-lifes during the latter part of his career. These floral scenes are similar to his earlier landscapes: he would produce a series of images from the original prototype, using the same compositional techniques with carefully plotted details and patterns. Set against a plain, uncluttered background, often a velvet dropcloth as in this work, his flowers possessed an almost sculptural quality. In Giant Magnolias he places them in a distinctly horizontal arrangement and treats them with what one critic called "a delicate orchestration of light and color." Luminist painters refrained from interposing their own temperament on their works, suppressing details and creating unified, light-filled compositions. Through his final decades, Heade continued to simplify his images until the became almost abstract, prefiguring the work of modernist painters like Georgia O'Keeffe and photographers like Edward Weston.