18 December 2002
BONPLAND, Aime J.A. (1773-1858). Description des plantes rares cultivées a Malmaison et a Navarre. Paris: L'Imprimerie de P. Didot l'Ainé, [1812-] 1813 [-1814].
2o (568 x 414 mm). Half-title. 64 stipple-engraved plates, printed in colors and finished by hand after P.J. REDOUTÉ (53) and PANCRACE BESSA (9) (first plate and plate 41 with repaired tears along platemark, plates 18 and 19 with repaired marginal tears). (Two repaired tears on title.) Modern half morocco, original spine laid down. Provenance: Bronson Library (stamp on last plate); Massachusetts Horticultural Society (stamps).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS SCARCE AND MAGNIFICENT BOOK. Bonpland's book is a continuation of Ventenat's Jardin de la Malmaison (1803-1805). Along with Les Liliacées, these represent the apogee of Redouté's achievement. Here, the technical process of stipple-engraving is perfected, and the illustrations are masterful botanic and artistic representations.
Redouté's association with Josephine began in 1798. He painted watercolors for her bedroom at Malmaison and contributed to the record of the plants in the extensive gardens published in Ventenat's and Bonpland's books. Bonpland had been appointed gardener at Malmaison by Josephine after Ventenat's death in 1808. After Josephine's divorce from Napoléon she made Navarre her principal residence and worked to recreate Malmaison's horticultural splendors. This was the last work for which Redouté enjoyed Josephine's patronage; with the waning of her power, Redouté lost his chief support.
SCARCE: the last copy sold at auction was at Christie's London, 12 May 1993, lot 5. Dunthorne 240 ("Outstanding plates, among the finest of all by Redouté, are 3 Magnolias, 3 Peonies, 1 Cactus and 1 Begonia plate"); Hunt Redoutéana 13; Johnson, Cleveland Botanical Collections 770; Nissen BBI 207; Pritzel 988; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 648.
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