Duke Ellington’s Pink Roses

Tony Bennett describes the meaning behind his painting of Duke Ellington with pink roses
duke ellington's pink roses

Tony Bennett’s painting God Is Love, inspired by Duke Ellington’s pink roses, is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection in Washington, D.C.

Updated August 4, 2023 – When the great singer, entertainer, and artist, Tony Bennett passed away in July, we were reminded of this painting and quote featured in a past issue of FLOWER magazine.

“Though I am a singer, I have been painting all my life, and one thing I have learned is that nature never disappoints. I gravitate to landscapes and still lifes with botanicals as the subject, which has given me a deep appreciation for the extraordinary beauty of flowers. One of my favorites is the pink rose, because I associate them with the jazz master Duke Ellington. Duke and I were good friends, and every time he wrote a new song he would send me a dozen pink roses to let me know. As a tribute to him, I painted his portrait and put pink roses in the background. I called it God Is Love, something Duke would often say.”

—Tony Bennett

Photograph by Leisa Cole | Painting ©1996 Tony Bennett/Benedetto | Black and white photo: Everett Collection