Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Pl. 78 Bird of Paradise (detail), Les Liliacées,  1802–16, stipple engraving

$8,150 this week only (list price $12,000). Offer expires 9-25-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

Pierre-Joseph Redouté Pl. 78 Bird of Paradise (detail), Les Liliacées, 1802–16, stipple engraving finished by hand


Acquire, Plate 78 Bird of Paradise (detail), Strelitzia reginae, strelizia de la reine (title on plate), one of the most sought after plates the renowned monograph, Les Liliacées (1802–16) by Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s. This superb hand-colored stipple engraving is available this week only at a significant saving.

Depicted in the size of life, the details are: 1. The top of the flower stalk. 2. A flower stripped of its bracts to show the outer divisions. 3. The same flower stripped of the outer divisions, to show the internal divisions, the pistil, and the stamens; the two greatest divisions were somewhat separated from each other. 4. The pistil and stamens stripped of any covering. 5. A stamen. 6. A  bract.

The Bird of Paradise was first introduced in England in 1773 by the British naturalist and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks (1740–1820). Due to its regal beauty, it was named in honor of Queen Charlotte Duchess of Meklenburg-Strelitz, and wife of King George III.

The following history in the text description accompanies this plate. 

Strelitzia is native to parts of Africa not far from Cap-de-Bonne-Esperance; it was brought to England, and flourished for the first time in the greenhouses of the garden of Kew. Messrs. Bancks and Aiton have dedicated this plant to the Queen of England, which is the house of Meklenburg-Strelitz; it blooms during the summer; The flowering lasts a long time, on account of the successive blossoming of the flowers; there is little happening without it being seen blooming in the Garden of the Museum of Natural History.

Comprising 503 plates, Les Liliacées appeared in 80 parts from 1802 to 1816. Only 200 copies were produced. Josephine Bonaparte’s support made the work possible, herself ordering several sets.The flawless bone-white paper in this folio allows the brilliance of color and nuance of tonality to shine through. It is not possible to overstate the beauty of the plates in this folio. 

Stipple engraving finished by hand with exceptional à la poupée color. P. J. Redouté pinx.; de Phelippeaux sculp. In perfect condition, folio size, 20.75 x 14 inches.

 $8,150 this week only (list price $12,000). Offer expires 9-25-17.

Reference: Les Liliacées, vol. 2, 1804

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Considered to be a French artist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) was born in the village of Saint-Hubert, now a part of Belgium. The descendant of a long line of painters, he received his first training as an artist from his father, Charles Joseph Redouté (1715–76). At the age of 13, he left Saint-Hubert to make a living as an itinerant painter and decorator. During this period he studied the old masters, and in particular, was influenced by the work of the 18th-century Dutch flower painter, Jan van Huysum. In 1782, his elder brother, Antoine Ferdinand Redouté (1756–1809), a highly regarded decorative artist, invited him to join him in Paris as a stage-set designer. There, in his spare time, he began sketching rare plants at the Jardin du Roi (now the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle). There, his artistic talent came to the attention of the Linnaean botanist Charles Louis L’Héritier and Gerard van Spaëndonck, Royal Professor of Painting, and they became Redouté’s mentors. Gerard van Spaëndonck developed the watercolor technique that Redouté later popularized.

In 1786, Redouté spent a brief period in England where he was introduced to the stipple-engraving technique. Employed at that time primarily for portraiture, it is a process of incising minute depressions in a copper plate forming a field of dots rather than lines. Stipple engraving is sublimely suited to conveying the subtle tonal gradations of watercolors. Redouté, who is credited with perfecting this technique said, “The process which we invented in 1796 for color printing consists in the employment of these colors on a single plate…. We have thereby softness and brilliance of a watercolor.” The dynamic realism he achieved surpassed all previous attempts at color botanical printmaking. In recognition of this valuable contribution, Redouté was awarded a medal by Louis XVIII.

On the eve of the French Revolution, Redouté was named to the position of Draftsman to the Cabinet of Marie Antoinette. Remarkably, he not only survived the Revolution, but attracted the patronage of Josephine Bonaparte in a seamless transition from the royal court to the French Republic. In 1798, Josephine Bonaparte acquired a grand estate, Malmaison, and began to fill its gardens with the rarest plants that the old and new worlds could furnish. Redouté flourished under Josephine’s reign.

In 1798, Josephine Bonaparte acquired a grand estate, Malmaison, and began to fill its gardens with the rarest plants that the old and new worlds could furnish. Redouté flourished under Josephine’s reign, publishing during this period the monumental Les Liliacées (1802-1816), naming the most dramatic plate after his benefactress, the “Amaryllis Josephinae“. Napoleon divorced Josephine in 1809, and she died in 1814. In the absence of Josephine’s patronage, Redouté’s fortunes began to decline. Somewhat impoverished, he died in 1840, suffering a stroke.

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

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