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Pierre-Joseph Redouté | The Raphael of flowers

Pierre-Joseph Redouté (10 July 1759 - 19 June 1840), was a painter and botanist from Belgium, known for his watercolours of roses, lilies and other flowers at the Château de Malmaison, many of which were published as large, coloured stipple engravings.
He was nicknamed "the Raphael of flowers" and has been called the greatest botanical illustrator of all time.
Redouté produced over 2,100 published plates depicting over 1,800 different species, many never rendered before.

Redouté was an official court artist of Marie Antoinette, and continued painting through the French Revolution and Reign of Terror.
He 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.

He combined great artistic skills with a pleasing, ingratiating personality which assisted him with his influential patrons.
After Queen Marie-Antoinette, his patrons included both of Napoleon's wives - Empress Joséphine and Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma - as well as Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily, wife of Louis Philippe I, the last king of France.
Redouté collaborated with the greatest botanists of his day and participated in nearly fifty publications depicting both the familiar flowers of the French court and plants from places as distant as Japan, America, South Africa, and Australia.

He worked from live plants rather than herbarium specimens, which contributed to his fresh, subtle renderings.
He was painting during a period in botanical illustration (1798-1837) that is noted for the publication of outstanding folio editions with coloured plates.

Julie Ribault | Redoutés school of botanical drawing in the Salle Buffon of the Jardin des Plante, 1830 | Fitzwilliam Museum

Of the French botanical illustrators employed in the French capital, Redouté is the one who remains in the public consciousness today.
He is seen as an important heir to the tradition of the Flemish and Dutch flower painters Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum and de Heem.

Early life

Redouté was born 10 July 1759, in Saint-Hubert, in the Belgian Luxembourg.
Both his father and grandfather were painters, and his elder brother, Antoine Ferdinand, was an interior decorator and scenery designer.
He would never gain much in the way of formal education, instead leaving home at the age of 13 to earn his living as an itinerant painter, doing interior decoration, portraits and religious commissions.
Eventually, in 1782, he made his way to Paris to join his brother in painting scenery for theatres.

Painting career

In Paris, Redouté met the botanists Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle and René Desfontaines, who steered him towards botanical illustration, a rapidly growing discipline.
L'Héritier became his instructor, teaching him to dissect flowers and portray their specific characteristics with precision.
L'Heritier also introduced Redouté to members of the court at Versailles, following which Marie Antoinette became his patron.
Redouté eventually received the title of Draughtsman and Painter to the Queen's Cabinet.

Cheveau, a Parisian dealer, brought the young artist to the attention of the botanical artist Gerard van Spaendonck at the Jardin du Roi, which would become the Jardin des plantes of the National Museum of Natural History, France in 1793, after the Revolution.
Van Spaendonck became another of Redouté's teachers, especially influencing his handling of watercolour.
In 1786, Redouté began to work at the National Museum of Natural History cataloguing the collections of flora and fauna and participating in botanical expeditions.

In 1787, he left France to study plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew near London, returning the following year.
In 1792 he was employed by the French Academy of Sciences.
In 1798, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, became his patron and, some years later, he became her official artist.
In 1809, Redouté taught painting to Princess Adélaïde of Orléans.

Later career and legacy

After Empress Joséphine's death (1814), Redouté had some difficult years until he was appointed a master of draughtsmanship for the National Museum of Natural History in 1822.
In 1824, he gave some drawing classes at the museum.
Many of his pupils were aristocrats or royalty.

He became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1825.

Although particularly renowned for his botanical exploration of roses and lilies, he thereafter produced paintings purely for aesthetic value.
Redoute taught and painted up to the day he died of a stroke on 19 or 20 June 1840.
He was survived by his wife, Marie-Marte Gobert, whom he married in 1786, and their two daughters.
He was interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

A Brussels school bears his name: the Institut Redouté-Peiffer in Anderlecht.
Most of the Les Liliacées watercolours went from the Empress Joséphine to her son from her first marriage Eugène de Beauharnais.
Most of the watercolours of her Jardin de la Malmaison (gardens of Château de Malmaison) were acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Redouté's paintings for Les Roses were bought by Charles X of France for his widowed daughter-in-law, Marie-Caroline of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duchess of Berry.

Their whereabouts are virtually untraceable: in 1948 some were sold by Sotheby's in London and a few were acquired by the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation; later, single sheets have appeared repeatedly in auction.

In 1985, 468 leaves were bought at a New York auction by an art dealer for approximately 5.5 million and then dispersed.

In the 20th and 21st century, numerous exhibitions in Europe, the Americas and Australia have been devoted to the work of Redouté.
The Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Library of Congress and other libraries have made many of his works accessible online and reproductions of his prints are available from virtually all print and poster shops. | Source: © Wikipedia

Pierre-Joseph Redouté (10 luglio 1759-19 giugno 1840), è stato un pittore e botanico Belga, noto per i suoi acquerelli di rose, gigli ed altri fiori al castello di Malmaison, molti dei quali di cui sono state pubblicate come grandi incisioni colorate.
Soprannominato "il Raffaello dei fiori" ed è stato definito il più grande illustratore botanico di tutti i tempi.

Redouté ha prodotto oltre 2.100 tavole pubblicate raffiguranti oltre 1.800 specie diverse, molte delle quali mai riprodotte prima.

Redouté è stato un artista ufficiale di corte di Maria Antonietta e ha continuato a dipingere durante la Rivoluzione francese ed il Regno del Terrore.
È sopravvissuto al turbolento sconvolgimento politico per ottenere il riconoscimento internazionale per i suoi precisi rendering di piante, che rimangono fresche all'inizio del 21° secolo come quando furono dipinte per la prima volta.

Combinava grandi capacità artistiche con una personalità piacevole ed accattivante che lo assisteva con i suoi influenti mecenati.
Dopo la regina Maria Antonietta, i suoi protettori includevano entrambe le mogli di Napoleone - l'imperatrice Giuseppina e Maria Luisa, duchessa di Parma - così come Maria Amalia di Napoli e Sicilia, moglie di Luigi Filippo I, l'ultimo re di Francia.

Redouté collaborò con i più grandi botanici del suo tempo e partecipò a quasi cinquanta pubblicazioni che ritraevano sia i fiori familiari della corte francese che piante provenienti da luoghi lontani come Giappone, America, Sud Africa ed Australia.

Ha lavorato con piante vive piuttosto che con esemplari di erbario, il che ha contribuito alle sue interpretazioni fresche e sottili.
Dipinse durante un periodo di illustrazione botanica (1798–1837) noto per la pubblicazione di eccezionali edizioni in folio con tavole colorate.

Degli illustratori botanici francesi impiegati nella capitale francese, Redouté è quello che rimane oggi nella coscienza pubblica.
È considerato un importante erede della tradizione dei pittori di fiori fiamminghi ed olandesi Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum e de Heem. | Fonte: © British Wikipedia