Tatiana Dokuchic
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Location: Ottawa, ON
Country: CA
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The Remarkable Redouté

user image 2010-09-30
By: Tatiana Dokuchic
Posted in: art

Nicknamed "The Raphael of flowers", Pierre-Joseph Redout (1759-1840) was an artist entranced by the beauty of nature. Born to a family of painters, Redout began his career as a religious artist, travelling around Europe decorating various churches. Eventually he made his way to Paris, concentrating his talents on botanical illustration. His beautiful renditions of roses, lilies and other "specimens" elevated work of scientific accuracy and classifications to the realm of magnificent art which is still enjoyed today.

Redout became an official court artist and the personal art teacher of Marie Antoinette, painting the gardens of Le Petit Trianon. In 1798, Empress Josephine became his patron and the gardens of her beloved Malmaison one of his subjects.

A designer for the French Academy of Sciences as well as the Professor of Plant Iconography at the Royal Gardens, Redout lived a long and active life.

I've always had bits of Redoute's work gracing my RL home and so I was delighted to learned of their connection to Marie Antoinette and the court of France. With the long Canadian winter approaching I know that I will be turning my eyes to his wonderful roses as a promise of the summer to come.

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Lord Myron de Verne
02 Oct 2010 01:26:47AM @lord-myron-de-verne:
Such a welcome and charming addition to this site, Tatiana, and so beautifully written as always!My parents had ( well, they still have) a book of Redout's illustrated roses, I did not care too much for it in my younger days, but your post brought back some sweet memories: next time I meet them,I'll go reach this book in their library:-)
Tatiana Dokuchic
02 Oct 2010 04:25:29AM @tatiana-dokuchic:
Thank you, Lord Myron. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!Many years ago I bought three framed Redout Rose prints (including the one pictured). I remember questioning the sales associate about a small flaw in one of them. Her answer "My dear, those are French antiques!" Little did I know :)) Antiques or not, I have always treasured them.Here is some additional information:An important point: the medium of botanical art is generally watercolor, but these are reproductions of hand-engraved prints after watercolor originals. The original edition off of which these plates are based is largely in excellent condition, so the reproductions look like new.Redout and his collaborators were also highly inventive: these prints use stippling (dotted shading), a rather rare technique at the time. Rather than apply dots by hand, the engravers used a toothed wheel, allowing for microscopic accuracy rather than the rather course effect achieved by modern artists who use stippling. The shading is very subtle and closely resembles watercolor. Over this a colorist would add watercolors by hand to give body to what would otherwise be a pale two-color or three-color drawing. R. FolkHow fortunate we are to still have those original engravings!
Anne, Comtesse de Noailles
02 Oct 2010 01:36:36PM @anne-comtesse-de-noailles:
so you have original ones? *faints*thats indeed quite a treasure!thank you for sharing this with us. it is indeed beautifully written. and also these two illustrations are lovely - the first one depicting one of my favourite flowers
Tatiana Dokuchic
04 Oct 2010 09:33:47AM @tatiana-dokuchic:
Well, I have one's that were made from the original engravings. My guess is that there are a lot of them floating around out there as the engraving plates are still in excellent condition.Way back then I had no idea who Redout was or anything about the history behind them, I just knew that I like the pictures - lol.The roses are my favourite as well. :))