Pierre Joseph Redoute (1759-1840).
Choix des Plus Belles Fleurs Prises dans Différentes Familles du Règne Végétal Text by D.-M. Guillemin. Paris: C.L.F. Panckoucke for the Author, Panckoucke, Bossange père [and others], 1827[-1833]. Large 4° (327 x 242 mm.) Letterpress title (verso blank), 2pp. 'advertisement', 'Table Alphabétique et Explicative des plantes figurées dans cet ouvrage' (9 leaves, paginated -17, verso of 9th leaf blank), final blank leaf. 144 fine stipple-engraved plates before numbers, printed in colours and finished by hand, by Langlois, Bessin, Chapuy, and Victor, after Redouté. (Title and 'avertissement' leaf spotted, some light spotting to plates marginal in the main but affecting the image area of about four plates.) Contemporary English green morocco gilt by John Clarke of London, covers with a decorative border composed from fillets and roll-tools, one including styllised bouquets, foliage and winged insects, the spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, the others with repeat decoration in gilt of a complex pattern of interlocking lozenges and triangles, circles and volutes, with two large flower-head tools, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges (light scuffing to extremities). Provenance: Hungerford, 3rd Baron Crewe (1812-1894, Crewe Hall, armorial bookplate).
A FINE COPY OF THIS SELECTION OF REDOUTé'S FINEST PLATES OF FLOWERS AND FRUITS, AND THE LAST OF THE THREE GREAT WORKS TO BE PUBLISHED UNDER HIS NAME. The Choix was issued in 36 fascicules between May 1827 and June 1833 (the text by Guillemin is dated 1833), in both quarto and folio format, the latter being the so-called grand papier version. The Hunt Redoutéana catalogue notes that the folio issue was restricted to a small number of copies only, traditionally given as five but the actual number was probably somewhat greater. The work is divided into four sections, Fruits, Roses, Bouquets, and Fleurs, with 16, 16, 9, and 103 plates respectively. Unlike later editions, this first edition has no section titles, and the plates were not presented in any particular order, although in the present copy they have been bound alphabetically according to Guillemin's listing.
Pierre-Joseph Redouté is the most celebrated and popular of all flower painters and his work is the culmination of a tradition of botanical illustration produced under royal patronage which dated back to the Renaissance. Redouté, the most eminent pupil of Gérard van Spaendonck, produced a large number of drawings on vellum, 519 of which are now in the famous collection of Vélins du Roi, housed in the Museum d'histoire naturelle in Paris. His outstanding talent for flower painting earned him the soubriquet "Raphael des Fleurs". The flowers, fruits and bouquets included in the Choix are characteristic of Redouté at his most assured, combining the best of his artistic background and his skill as an observer of nature: "Éclairé par l'expérience, encouragé par les souffrages les plus flatteurs des naturalistes et des peintres de mon pays et des contrées les plus éloignées; c'est en me livrant aux travaux botaniques les plus étendus, c'est en étudiant sans cesse la nature dans la constance et dans la variété des formes et de ses couleurs, que je crois être parvenu à réussir sous le triple rapport d'exactitude, de la composition et du coloris, dont la réunion peut seule porter à perfection l'iconogrpahie végétale" (Redouté, writing in the preface to the present work).
Redouté was closely linked to the Panckoucke publishing family through one of his most gifted pupils, Anne-Ernestine Panckoucke, who had married C.L.F. Panckoucke. The French botanist D.-M. Guillemin wrote the Table Alphabétique et Explicative des plantes, and the combination of a rigorous alphabetical listing of species, Panckoucke's printing, and Redouté's extraordinarily fine plates, resulted in a publishing and botanical sensation. Demand was such that there were two further editions during Redouté's lifetime, in 1829 and 1833.
Dunthorne 235; Great Flower Books p.129; cf. Hunt Redoutéana 21; Nissen BBI 1591; Pritzel 7456; Stafleu & Cowan 8750.