Monday, May 30, 2011

The Gallery

Lilac by Pierre-Joseph Redoute' 1759-1840

After posting Rachel's wonderful drawing of her bright red poppy on Saturday, I thought about how most of us spend a great deal of our childhood practicing the art of "botanical illustration" and then, for some reason at a certain age, give it up. Remember all those drawings of trees, grass and big, bright-faced daisies you did as a kid? What better way to bring us closer to nature and teach us the intricacies of the plant world!  I seem to be reverting to childhood in more ways than one these days and so I am now vowing to dust off my watercolors, buy a new brush or two, and have at it once again!  Care to join me?

Luckily for us, one person who never gave up on the fine art of botanical illustration was Pierre-Joseph Redoute'.  Although Redoute' was famous for his detailed illustrations of roses, I chose his illustration of a lilac as an example of his work. Lilacs are one of my favorite spring flowers and we try to extend their season as long as possible here at Juniper Hill as you'll see in an upcoming post. For more detail on Pierre-Joseph Redoute', please read on.

portrait of Pierre-Joseph Redoute' by Louis Leopold Boilly
Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840), was a Belgian painter and botanist, known for his watercolors of roses, lilies and other flowers at Malmaison. He was nicknamed "The Raphael of flowers". He was an official court artist of Queen Marie Antoinette, and he continued painting through the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. Redouté survived the turbulent political upheaval to gain international recognition for his precise renderings of plants, which remain as fresh in the early 21st century as when first painted.

Paris was the cultural and scientific center of Europe during an outstanding period in botanical illustration (1798 – 1837), one noted for the publication of several folio books with colored plates. Enthusiastically, Redouté became an heir to the tradition of the Flemish and Dutch flower painters Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum and de Heem. Redouté contributed over 2,100 published plates depicting over 1,800 different species, many never rendered before.

(biographical text on Redoute' from

For more from The Gallery, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful Joe although my inclination would be to trace them with tracing paper. There is something about carrying on the detail of another that makes it that much more interesting to me. That and the fact that I can not draw!

    Jeanne :)


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