Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s flower prints are so lush and detailed that you can almost pick the flowers off the page. In the famous rose print below, a single drop of water rests exquisitely on a rose petal of the top rose. Born in a family of artists*, Pierre-Joseph became known as the premier botanical illustrator of his day (indeed, to this day). His influence spread far and wide and can be still felt in illustrations on cards, decorative boxes, books, wallpapers and prints, and calendars.
The watercolor images in this post were taken from his famous book of prints, Les Roses. Redouté, known as the “Raphael of flowers, mastered the technique of stipple engraving- in which he uses tiny dots, rather than lines, to create engraved copies of his watercolor illustrations. This new technique allowed him to make subtle variations in coloring (see the detail of the magnolia in the last image below).
The four faces (and ages) of Pierre-Joseph Redouté
Redouté completed the three volumes of Les Roses, his best known work, between 1817 and 1824. His most popular illustrations are assembled in Les Liliacées (486 watercolors); and Les Roses (169 watercolors). Hand-colored stipple engravings, such as the magnolia sitting at the bottom of this post, were made from these watercolors. – Discovery Editions
Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, was known for her spectacular garden at Chateau de Malmaison, where exotic plants were cultivated. The plants, acquired from around the world, were documented by France’s leading horticulturists and botanists, and painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté.
Detail of the magnolia engraving below.
- The Floral Art of Pierre Joseph Redoute by Marianne Roland Michel, Peter C. Sutton, Carolyn Rose Rebbert, 2002
- George Glazer Gallery
- Illustration in book
- Rose Prints
- A Picture of Roses
- Dictionary of painters and Engravers, 1889 By Michael Bryan, Robert Edmund Graves
- Les Liliacees, Cincinnati Historical Society Library