The masterpiece of Pierre Joseph Redouté, one of the greatest of all flower artists who was employed by the Empress Josephine, wife of the Emperor Napoleon, as official court artist at her Malmaison estate outside Paris.
During the 1790s, Belgian born Redouté (1759-1837) became one of the most popular flower painters. He perfected the color stipple engraving technique, which he had learned during a stay in London and first applied it in his illustrations for de Candolle’s work Plantes Grasses.
Paris was the cultural and scientific centre of Europe during an outstanding period in botanical illustration, one noted for the publication of several folio books with coloured plates. Enthusiastically, Redouté became an heir to the tradition of the Flemish and Dutch flower painters Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum and de Heem. Redouté contributed over 2,100 published plates depicting over 1,800 different species, many never rendered before.
From 1802 he published his Liliacées, in which he largely applied the technical possibilities of colour printing to the large and evenly coloured leaves and blossoms. In this work he also breached the flower painters’ tradition of framing the plants with an outer contour line.
In 1805 he was appointed court and flower painter to the Empress Josephine. After the monarchy was overthrown, he remaine in close contact with the Bourbon royal family. From 1817 to 1824 he produced the work that was to become the peak of his success, namely the monography Les Roses finely printed by Firmin Didot and issued in thirty parts. Each delivery of the finished colour copperplates, was received with a storm of enthusiasm.
Les Roses is the most celebrated and the most reproduced of all flower books. In it Redoute figured almost all the important roses of his day. Included were many of the key ancestors of our present-day roses. The plates in Les Roses have artistic, botanical and documentary value, both for the species and cultivars still surviving and for those that have disappeared. The plates themselves are magnificently and delicately worked, and make Les Roses a magnificent and beautiful book.
First edition. 3 volumes, folio large paper set (57.5 x 38 cm), engraved portrait of Redoute, 169 stipple-engraved plates by Chardin, Lemaire, Langlois and others after Redoute printed in colour and finished by hand, contemporary red morocco-backed boards, the later published volume 3 matching but not uniform, a fine fresh set.
Hunt. Cat. 19; Great Flower Books p71; Dunthorne 232; Nissen BBI 1599.
Stock ID: 98992