Sunday, March 05, 2006


Belgian born Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) held a uniquely favoured status in France before and after the Revolution. Queen Marie Antoinette and Josephine were both enthusiastic patrons of his renowned floral artistry.

He began his career as an itinerant church decorator at the age of 13 but eventually joined his brother in Paris as a theatre painter. While in Paris, Redouté had time to pursue his interest in flower illustrating and he was introduced to the botanist Charles L’Héritier who helped to guide his career, emphasizing a balance between science and art. L’Héritier took him to England and published his first prints.

The 3 works for which Redouté is best remembered are Les Liliacées (1802-1815), Les Roses (1817-1824) and Choix des Plus Belles Fleurs (1827-1833). He introduced the technique of stipple engraving (where dots rather than lines were applied to the copper plates) to France which conferred a softness onto the intricate detail of his illustrations and brought him international success and wealth.

I spent quite some time examining Volume I and removing images and then realized that Les Liliacées is actually composed of 8 volumes. So all of the above come from the first 2 volumes.

There's some personal irony here in the fact that I was almost certain that I'd posted something about Redouté previously but nothing turned up on searching. The reason it felt familiar is that I've actually gone through many of the background sources previously but just hadn't got my act together to make a post.

I have been thinking lately anyway of going through all the posts here and adding them to because I really am forgetting what I've read/seen versus what I've posted. I'm still not convinced it will be of use either to myself or to other people - does anyone have any opinion on this? Stingy Scholar did it recently.

I have a 'personal' delicious account (which is not difficult to identify) but I find myself hardly ever actually using the tags to find links. I either just scan the pages or use 1 or 2 tags to find things. This whole social bookmarking fad is great for finding things from other people I guess, but it doesn't actually organize me more efficiently.

The Illustrated Garden are using delicious to organize their huge digital collection
- that's the ironic part, by the way. They want volunteers for tagging if anyone is interested.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this beautiful pictures and info! You've made a fan.

peacay said...

The University of Strasbourg have all 8 volumes of 'Les Liliacées' plus 2 other works - they have enormous jpeg images available.

Unknown said...

His illustrations are just magnificent. His father painted churches, so that is probably where he got his gift from.

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