Series Spotlight - Pierre Joseph Redoute


In the Age of Enlightenment in Paris, a hub for science and culture, Pierre Joseph Redouté thrived as a botanical artist, patronised by French royalty and empresses. Nicknamed ‘the Raphael of flowers’, his finely honed talent allowed him to survive, both literally and artistically, the French Revolution and subsequent Reign of Terror, he was awarded the position of official artist by both Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte. To begin his career, Redouté travelled around Europe, learning his skills from botanists, artists, and engravers alike. Using copperplate stipple engravings, Redouté’s reproductions were just as wonderful as the originals, and in his career, he published over 2,100 plates, depicting over 1,800 species of plant.

This collection features some of the delicate and detailed watercolours that Redouté painted in his career, including plants native to six continents. He painted many rare and exotic plants in Josephine Bonaparte’s Chateau de Malmaison and later Navarre and, as such many, of Redouté’s beautiful paintings are incredible markers in botanical history. This collection alone, a mere snippet of his vast work, includes bananas, at the time mostly unfamiliar to Europeans, and the first tropical orchid to flower in England. It also includes Amaryllis Josephine, an amaryllis plant which he renamed in homage to his patron and the only folding plate in the whole publication. 

Redouté’s impressive work perfectly balances the scientific with the splendid, the botanical with the beautiful.

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