REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840. Les Liliacées. Text by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (vols. I-IV), Franois Delaroche (vols. V-VI) and Alire Raffeneau-Delile (vols. VII-VIII). Paris: Imprimerie de Didot jeune, for the author. 1802-1816.
6 volumes only (of 8, lacking vols. 3 and 4), bound in 3, 2o (526 x 348 mm). Engraved portrait frontispiece of Redouté by C.S. Pradier after Gerard, letterpress half-titles and French-Latin index to each volume, cumulative French-Latin index at end of vol. VIII. 374 (of 486) STIPPLE-ENGRAVED PLATES PRINTED IN COLORS AND FINISHED BY HAND (except plate 372, uncolored as usual), by Bessin, Chapuy, and others after Redouté, plate 95, "Tradescantia Virginica," in first state, labelled "Commelina erecta," plate 370-371 a single folding plate, plates 428 ("Narcissus laetus," engraved by Langlois) in two versions (one misnumbered 427) and 429 ("Narcissus dubius," engraved by Chapuy) in one version (misnumbered 428), fos. 463-468 misnumbered 473-478 (some occasional pale offsetting and spotting, some minor pale dampstaining in vol. VII). Contemporary mottled calf gilt (rebacked preserving original spines, repairs at corners, vol. I with wear at board edges). Provenance: Robert Barclay (bookplate); Massachusetts Horticultural Society (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF REDOUTÉ'S UNDISPUTED MASTERPIECES. Les Liliacées represents in many ways the culmination of Redouté's art. It is his largest single work; it depicts, sometimes for the first time, specimens of the liliacae family; and it contains Redouté's most extensive use of stipple-engraving, a technique which he pioneered in France. Redouté published Les Liliacées under his own name, but it owes much to the patronage of Empress Josephine Bonaparte. Their association began in 1798; Redouté painted watercolors for her bedroom at Malmaison and contributed to the record of the plants in the extensive gardens, published in Ventenat's Jardin de la Malmaison and Bonpland's Description des Plantes Rares cultives Malmaison et Navarre (see lot 11).
Redouté's mastery of colored stipple-engraving was a significant contribution to the artistic and accurate rendering of flowers. He learned the technique from Francesco Bartolozzi while visiting England with L'Héritier de Brutelle, and reputedly introduced it to France. The technique, which had not been applied to flowers before, allowed a delicacy of line and color which could not be achieved with more conventional engraving and hand-coloring. The plates in Les Liliacées also include some hand-applied heightening of the color printing. The title, Les Liliacées, is modest, for the work also includes examples of irises, orchids, amaryllis, heliconias, strelitzias, and agaves, among others. Due to its delicacy, the liliacae family could not be included in collections of dried specimens, and so Redouté's drawings from life were of particular value. A journalist and friend, Jules Janin, eulogised the great flower artist when he wrote after Redouté's death: "Cette tincelante et élgante famille des Liliacées, d'une généalogie si difficile, ces races diverses qui se mlent et qui se confondent si bien qu'il a fallu tre un homme de gnie pour les dcrire..." (Léger, Redouté et son Temps, 1945, p.111). Dunthorne 231; Great Flower Books, p. 71; I. MacPhail, "Books Illustrated by Redouté," in G.M. Lawrence A catalogue of Redoutéana exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library (Pittsburgh: 1963), 10; Nissen BBI 1597; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 8747. (3)