This lush and elaborate still life, a tour-de-force of technique and natural observation, is the largest of Redouté's known drawings. Flowers represented include Poppies, yellow and orange Crown Imperials, white and orange daisies (Gerbera?), blue and white delphiniums, carnations, pink and white roses, auricula, peonies and campanula.
The watercolour was commissioned by Redouté's most important patron during the Empire, the empress Joséphine. Exhibited at the 1810 Salon, it is described in the 1811 catalogue of Joséphine's celebrated collection. At her death in 1814, her son, Prince Eugene, inherited it. It was supposed to be sent to the prince's residence in Munich in 1818 but was at the time in Redouté's studio because the artist wanted to retouch it. It was still there in 1822 when Prince Eugene asked for it to be collected as he wished to have it in Munich. The drawing, which has remained in the same German collection since the second half of the 19th Century, is still in its original frame, typical of the ones made for Joséphine at Malmaison (see A. Pougetoux, op. cit., 2003, pp. 41-2 and 163, no. 317, ill.).
Redouté seems to have met Joséphine in 1799, the year the future empress bought the estate of Malmaison. In this venue an interest in exotic plants, some of which owe their introduction in France to Joséphine, was combined with the scientific care with which certain plants were methodically studied and published. The considerable activity that filled the gardens was equalled only by that displayed by the artist charged with documenting it, Redouté. Joséphine commissioned him to illustrate three important publications: Les liliacées, with 486 plates published in eight volumes from 1802 to 1816; Le jardin de Malmaison with 120 plates in two volumes published in 1803-05; and Les roses, probably Redouté's most famous work, which although instigated by Joséphine was only published between 1817 and 1824, after the fall of Napoleon and the death of the empress. In addition to these gigantic enterprises, Redouté produced seven large watercolours which were installed in the empress's bedroom at Malmaison. Six of them were exhibited at the 1804 Salon. The importance of the work Redouté had done for Joséphine was acknowledged by his appointment as 'Flower Painter to the Empress' on 6 March 1805.