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REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Les Liliacées. Text by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (vols. I-IV), François Delaroche (vols. V-VI) and Alire Raffeneau-Delile (vols. VII-VIII). Paris: Imprimerie de Didot jeune for the author, 1802-1816.
REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Les Liliacées. Text by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (vols. I-IV), François Delaroche (vols. V-VI) and Alire Raffeneau-Delile (vols. VII-VIII). Paris: Imprimerie de Didot jeune for the author, 1802-1816.

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REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Les Liliacées. Text by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (vols. I-IV), François Delaroche (vols. V-VI) and Alire Raffeneau-Delile (vols. VII-VIII). Paris: Imprimerie de Didot jeune for the author, 1802-1816.

First edition of Redouté’s largest and most ambitious work and a masterpiece of botanical illustration; an outstanding association copy from the library of one of his most influential patrons, the Duchesse de Berry.

Les Liliacées was the first of Redouté’s three great collections of botanical prints, preceding his Les Roses and Choix des plus belles fleurs. He had come to the attention of Empress Josephine through his contributions to Ventenat’s Jardin de la Malmaison (1803-04) and indeed it was for her that he produced some of his best work. With the prints of Le Jardin de la Malmaison, Redouté's Liliacées ‘constitute the highest peak of [his] artistic and botanical achievement’ (Hunt Redoutéana, p. 21). Many of the flowers depicted in Les Liliacées were drawn at Malmaison, and he named a rare specimen after the empress, Amaryllis josephinae, illustrating its luscious beauty here as the sole double-page plate.

Redouté combined his brilliant artistic skills with a technical mastery to bring botanical illustration to a level never achieved before or since. He adopted the painstaking technique of applying all the colours to a single stipple-engraved plate, thus requiring re-inking after each impression. This method was ideally suited to the subtle expression of tone and contour but had not been previously applied to the depiction of flowers. The great beauty of his work has somewhat overshadowed his scientific contribution, but for each lily Redouté gives the history, nomenclature, plate description and observations. His work on lilies was particularly useful in providing detailed images of a fragile plant impossible to preserve as a dried specimen. Also, the work is far more than a monograph of the lily, as the specimens illustrated ‘encompass petaloid monocotyledons in general’ (Blunt and Stearn): irises, orchids, heliconias, agaves, amaryllis, and bromeliads, including pineapple and banana.

Too young to have been a patron of Les Liliacées, the Duchesse de Berry studied botanical drawing under Redouté and became a strong supporter, acquiring all of his works in fine copies, including 170 original drawings for Les Roses. She formed one of the great libraries at Rosny, with special emphasis on natural history, and favoured the finest bindings, original drawings and paintings. In 1830 she was exiled from France with her father-in-law Charles X, and took part of her library with her to Italy and later to Brunnensee, Switzerland. Presumably in need of funds, she arranged for some books, including this copy of Les Liliacées (and the original drawings of Les Roses) to be shipped to England in 1830 where they were sold at auction the following year as a ‘Splendid Library of an Illustrious Foreign Personage’. In 1832 she returned to France to canvas support for a counter-revolution to secure the throne for her son. She was arrested in Nantes, imprisoned and later released. She owned a second, less grand copy of Les Liliacées (merely backed in morocco and with her monogram stamp), which was sold with the rest of her library in 1837 as lot 332.

Les Liliacées was limited to 280 copies issued in 80 parts between 1802 and 1816. From 1806 Redouté simultaneously produced 18 copies of a large-paper issue. Stafleu and Cowan 8747; Nissen BBI 1597; Great Flower Books p.71; Dunthorne 231; I. MacPhail, 'Books Illustrated by Redouté' in G. H. M. Lawrence A catalogue of Redoutéana exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library, Pittsburgh: 1963. 10.

8 volumes, folio (508 x 340mm). Original front blank in vol. I, half-titles, dedication 'Au Citoyen Chaptal' in vol. I. Engraved portrait of Redouté by C. S. Pradier after Gerard, 487 stipple-engraved plates printed in colours and finished by hand (plate 372, uncoloured as usual), by Bessin, Chapuy and others after Redouté, plates numbered 1 - 486, with 370⁄71 a single folding plate and two versions of plate 428 Narcissus Laetus, second state of plate 95 Tradescantia Virginica. (Plate numbers being printed close to the margin are often shaved or cut away, also some imprint or title captions, 17 plates shaved with slight or very slight loss to the image, very occasional light spotting, slightly heavier spotting on first and last text leaves and some plates, vols. VII and VIII with some light offsetting of text onto plates.) Bound for the Duchesse de Berry in contemporary red straight-grained morocco gilt by F. Doll: Berry arms [Olivier 2554 fer 2] centrally tooled on the sides, surrounded by an elaborate gilt and blind-tooled border composed or rules, roll-tools, various small tools and some pointillé work in blind, spine in seven compartments with double raised bands, lettered in two, the others tooled in gilt and blind, gilt turn-ins and edges (lower edges slightly scuffed, vol. VI with old faint stain, vols I and VIII with very slight scuff marks on sides). Provenance: Marie-Caroline-Ferdinande-Louise de Bourbon-Sicile, duchesse de Berry (1798-1870; sale Evans 21 March 1831, lot 815, described as on vellum paper, ‘most beautifully and delicately coloured after nature, bound in red morocco, gilt leaves’; binding) -- Beriah Botfield (1807-1863; acquired from Payne & Foss for 40gn.19s.; by descent to his wife:) -- Isabella Botfield (d.1911; by bequest to:) -- Lord Alexander Thynne (1873-1918), Longleat (pencilled shelfmark, sale Christie’s, 30 March 1994, lot 82).
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