VENTENAT, ÉTIENNE-PIERRE. Jardin de la Malmaison. Paris: Crapelet for the author, 1803-.
2 volumes bound in one, folio, 560 x 370mm., contemporary French red half morocco gilt, the flat spine divided into nine compartments by decorative foliage rolls, lettered in one, the others with centrally-placed single flower-head tool, very lightly soiled, without half-title, title, 2 pp. table or errata in vol.II.
FIRST EDITION. Half-title, title, 2 pp. dedication to 'Madame Bonaparte', 120 stipple-engraved plates after Pierre-Joseph Redouté, printed in colors and finished by hand, by J. B. Dien, P. F. Legrand, L. J. Allais, and others, extra-illustrated with a contemporary 2pp. manuscipt 'Table Alphabetique' with an original watercolour of a flower spray at the foot of the second page.
AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE UNCUT COPY IN UNSOPHISTICATED CONDITION, CONTAINING REDOUTÉ'S FINEST BOTANIC ILLUSTRATIONS. "This series of one hundred and twenty coloured plates, plus... Les Liliacées, constitute the highest peak of Redouté's artistic and botanical achievement; both books are among the most important monuments of botanical illustration ever to be published... This magnificent publication brings Redouté to the top of his artistic career and amply justifies his fame as one of the most eminent botanical illustrators of all time" (Stafleu in Lawrence Redoutéana p.21). The work is a record and celebration of Josephine Bonaparte's garden at Malmaison, where she assembled one of the world's greatest collection of flora. Redouté entered her employment in 1798, the same year as the purchase of the estate just to the west of Paris. To enable her to collect plants on a grand scale Josephine employed a number of distinguished botanists such as Cles and Blaikie to procure specimens, and the task of cataloguing and publishing the collection was overseen by the eminent botanist and librarian of the Panthéon, Étienne-Pierre Ventenat. Ventenat was commissioned to write the text for this, the first work on the Malmaison collection, and Redouté undertook the drawings of the plant specimens. The work was issued in 20 parts over a three-year period.
Stafleu & Cowan TL2 16.007; Nissen BBI 2049; Great Flower Books p.79; Dunthorne 255; I.MacPhail in Lawrence, A Catalogue of Redoutéana exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library (Pittsburgh: 1963) 12.