This spectacular watercolour on vellum is possibly the only known work by the aristocratic amateur artist, Baron de Colins. Little is known about the artist, but the influence of Pierre-Joseph Redout displayed in the delicacy of the flowers depicted, in particular the peonies, suggests that Colins was one of his pupils.
The painting is typical of the grand-scale watercolours executed by followers of Redout in the first half of the 19th century. The composition is certainly influenced by the Dutch School artists such as Jan van Huysum (1682-1749), whose influence pervaded the Parisian school of botanical painting and drawing through the teaching of the van Spandoncks, Cornelus (1756-1840) and Gerard (1746-1822) (see D. Scrase, Three Centuries of Flower Painting, Washington, 1983, p. 69, pl. 91 for a similar vase of flowers on a marble plinth, painted on vellum, by Cornelis). The present watercolour can also be compared to a watercolour of a similar size and composition, painted by Anne-Ernestine Panckoucke (1784-1860), a well-known pupil of Redout, which sold at Christie's London, 11 November 1998 (lot 90, 56,500).
The present watercolour bears a dedication from the artist to Monsieur Emile de Girardin (b. 1806), an eminent Parisian publisher and economist who was active in political circles during the first half of the 19th century. He founded several newspapers and fought for free education and other social causes.