Secondary to the hymen-like floral wreath exact symbolism seems a single flower as a depiction of female virginity. The ‘virginal flower’, in Latin ‘flos virgineus’, or ‘virginity flower’, in Latin ‘flos virginitatis” means exactly ‘hymen’, the flower looking skin around the vaginal hole. Hence French ‘Elle a perdu sa fleur’ – ‘She lost her flower’. From Late Latin dēflorātiō – plucking the flowers, originated defloration - taking a woman's virginity, literally taking a virgin’s hymen.
The normal anatomy of the female virgin as an art motif.
The hymenal and urethral orifices extended with fingers resemble flowers.
The flower as a symbol of female virginity became very popular among painters.
virginal flower virginity flower flos virgineus flos virginitatis fleur virginale fleur de la virginité fiore verginale fiore della verginità flor virginal flor de virginidad jungfräulichen Blume die Blume der Jungfräulichkeit
Paul Gauguin: La perte du pucelage (The Loss of Virginity)
A nude young woman lies on her back amid bright fields of pink, green, blue, and gold. A fox, his sly eyes engaging the viewer, has firmly placed his paw upon the woman’s heart. With her left hand she holds the fox; in her right, a plucked flower wilts, its stem intertwined in her fingers. The woman’s pale white feet are crossed, and her face wears a fixed and distant expression. (...) In this work, Gauguin has included many symbols to convey the central idea—the sacrifice of a young woman’s virginity. The plucked flower that the maiden holds in her right hand represents lost innocence, while the sly-eyed fox foreshadows her downfall as he places his paw over her heart. In Indian mythology, the fox symbolizes perversity, and in Andean myths, it is thought to be an “animal of the devil.” The harvested wheat stands for fertility and nature, and the Bretons on the path—believed to have just attended a wedding—may signify the woman’s longing for respectability. Finally, the position of the woman’s feet recalls images of the crucifixion, thus calling to mind personal sacrifice—here, the sacrifice of her virginity. WHO IS THE MAIDEN, AND WHY DOES SHE LOOK SO SAD? The young woman pictured in The Loss of Virginity was Juliette Huet, a seamstress whom Gauguin met in Paris around the same time that the work was painted. By the time Gauguin left for Tahiti, Huet was pregnant and eventually gave birth to a daughter. A letter that the artist wrote after his departure suggests that he felt guilty for leaving his mistress: “Poor Juliette with a child, and now I can’t help her…It happened in spite of everything; God knows the conditions under which I did it.” The fox, then, may have represented even more for Gauguin: quite possibly, he meant for the fox to denote his personal role in the woman’s loss of innocence and physical purity. — Kristi McMillan More.