REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Les Liliacées. Text by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (vols. I-IV), François Delaroche (vols. V-VI) and Alire Raffeneau-Delile (vols. VII-VIII). Paris: Imprimerie de Didot jeune, for the author. 1802-1816.
8 volumes, large 2° (540 x 353mm). 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, additions and corrections in vols. I-III, VI-VII, 486 STIPPLE-ENGRAVED PLATES PRINTED IN COLOURS AND FINISHED BY HAND (except plate 372, uncoloured as correct), 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) and 429 (Narcissus dubius, engraved by Chapuy) in one version only (misnumbered 427 and 428, respectively), fos. 463-468 misnumbered 473-478. (Without printed dedication to Chaptal, present in some copies, tiny spot in a few plates, light dampstain at extreme fore-edge of several leaves and plates in vols. I-III, some faint spotting and light offsetting in vols. VII and VIII.) Contemporary red half morocco with single roll-tool border, spine lettered in gilt (very small wormholes at hinges, discreet paper repairs to two vols.), by Tessier, with his label in vol. I.
LARGE, UNTRIMMED COPY OF REDOUTÉ'S LARGEST WORK. 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 Liliaceés under his own name, but it owes much to the patronage of Empress Josephine Buonaparte. Their association began in 1798 and Redouté painted watercolours for her bedroom at Malmaison and contributed to the record of the plants in the extensive gardens there, published in Ventenat's Jardin de la Malmaison and Bonpland's Description des Plantes Rares cultivées à Malmaison et à Navarre. It was through Josephine's influence that the Minister of the Interior, Chaptal, subscribed to 80 copies of Les Liliacées; it is perhaps for those 80 copies, sent to dignitaries and libraries throughout France and beyond, that Redouté had the dedication to Chaptal printed. Redouté paid homage to Josephine in Les Liliacées, when he renamed an amaryllis Amaryllis Josephinae; it is depicted in the only folding plate in the work (370/371) and its bulb in plate 369. He explains that a bulb had been brought from southern Africa to Holland, where it had not flowered for 20 years. When it did finally bloom, Josephine acquired the amaryllis, and it had bloomed twice already while in her care.
Redouté's mastery of the coloured stipple-engraving was a significant contribution to the artistic and accurate rendering of flowers. He learned the technique from Francesco Bartolozzi while visiting England and Kew Gardens with L'Héritier de Brutelle, and introduced it to France. The technique, which had not been applied to flowers even in England, allowed a fineness of line and colour which could not be achieved with more conventional engraving and hand-colouring. The plates in Les Liliacées were fully completed with heightening of colour applied by hand. Redouté himself oversaw the hand-colouring of the 18 large-paper copies.
The title, Les Liliacées, is modest, for its specimens range from irises, orchids, amaryllis, heliconias, strelitzias, agaves and others. Due to its delicacy, the liliacae family could not be included in collections of dried specimens, and so Redoute's drawings from life were of particular value. A journalist and friend, Jules Janin, eulogized the great flower artist when he wrote after Redouté's death: "Cette étincelante et élégante famille des Liliacées, d'une généalogie si difficile, ces races diverses qui se mêlent et qui se confondent si bien qu'il a fallu être un homme de génie pour les décrire..." (Léger, Redouté et son Temps, 1945, p.111).
Stafleu and Cowan 8747; Nissen BBI 1597; Great Flower Books p.71; Dunthorne 231; I. MacPhail, "Books Illustrated by Redouté," in G.M. Lawrence A catalogue of Redoutéana exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library (Pittsburgh: 1963), 10. (8)