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PIERRE-JOSEPH REDOUT (1759-1840)
PIERRE-JOSEPH REDOUT (1759-1840)

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PIERRE-JOSEPH REDOUT (1759-1840)

Les Liliaces. Text by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (vols. I-IV), Franois Delaroche (vols. V-VI) and Alire Raffeneau-Delile (vols. VII-VIII). Paris: Imprimerie de Didot jeune, for the author. 1802-1816. 8 volumes, large 2 (540 x 353mm). engraved portrait frontispiece of Redout by C.S. Pradier after Gerard, letterpress half-titles and French-Latin index to each volume, cumulative French-Latin index at end of vol. VIII, additions and corrections in vols. I-III, VI-VII, 486 STIPPLE-ENGRAVED PLATES PRINTED IN COLOURS AND FINISHED BY HAND (except plate 372, uncoloured as usual), by Bessin, Chapuy, and others after Redout, plate 95, Tradescantia Virginica, in first state, labelled Commelina erecta, plate 370-371 a single folding plate, plates 428 (Narcissus laetus, engraved by Langlois) and 429 (Narcissus dubius, engraved by Chapuy) in one version only, misnumbered 427 and 428, respectively, fos. 463-468 misnumbered 473-478. (Without printed dedication to Chaptal, present in some copies, light dampstain at extreme fore-edge of several leaves and plates in vols. I-III, some faint spotting and light offsetting in vols. VII and VIII.) Contemporary red half morocco with single roll-tool border, spine lettered in gilt (very small wormholes at hinges, discreet paper repairs to two vols.), by Tessier, with his label in vol. I.

A FINE LARGE, UNTRIMMED COPY OF REDOUT'S LARGEST, AND ARGUABLY HIS MOST BEAUTIFUL WORK. Les Liliaces represents in many ways the culmination of Redout's art. It is his largest single work; it depicts, sometimes for the first time, specimens of the liliacae family; and it contains Redout's most extensive use of stipple-engraving, a technique which he pioneered in France. Redout published Les Liliaces under his own name, but it owes much to the patronage of Empress Josephine Bonaparte. Their association began in 1798; Redout painted watercolours for her bedroom at Malmaison and contributed to the record of the plants in the extensive gardens, published in Ventenat's Jardin de la Malmaison and Bonpland's Description des Plantes Rares cultives Malmaison et Navarre.

Redout's mastery of coloured stipple-engraving was a significant contribution to the artistic and accurate rendering of flowers. He learned the technique from Francesco Bartolozzi while visiting England with L'Hritier de Brutelle, and reputedly introduced it to France. The technique, which had not been applied to flowers before, allowed a delicacy of line and colour which could not be achieved with more conventional engraving and hand-colouring. The plates in Les Liliaces also include some hand-applied heightening of the colour printing. The title, Les Liliaces, is modest, for the work also includes examples of irises, orchids, amaryllis, heliconias, strelitzias, and agaves, amongst others. Due to its delicacy, the liliacae family could not be included in collections of dried specimens, and so Redoute's drawings from life were of particular value. A journalist and friend, Jules Janin, eulogised the great flower artist when he wrote after Redout's death: "Cette tincelante et lgante famille des Liliaces, d'une gnalogie si difficile, ces races diverses qui se mlent et qui se confondent si bien qu'il a fallu tre un homme de gnie pour les dcrire..." (Lger, Redout et son Temps, 1945, p.111).
Stafleu and Cowan 8747; Nissen BBI 1597; Great Flower Books p.71; Dunthorne 231; I. MacPhail, "Books Illustrated by Redout," in G.M. Lawrence A catalogue of Redoutana exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library (Pittsburgh: 1963), 10. (8)
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