A fine stipple engraving with original hand color
21 x 14 inches sheet, 31 x 24 inches framed. Fine stipple-engraved plate in colors.
L’imprimerie de Didot Jeune. Paris, 1802 - 1816. Annotation with names in French on lower half; legend below identifying P.J. Redouté as painter and Phillippeaux as engraver (tiny tears along bottom edge, toning consistent with age).
The present stipple engraving provides a true-to-life portraiture of a Flabby Leaved Canna flower or Balisier Flasque. Its other names include Golden Canna and Bandana of the Everglades. This blooming, showy, native aquatic plant originates from the South-eastern and South-central wetlands of America, from Texas to South Carolina. It flourishes at the edges of marshes, ponds, and lakes, and is easily identifiable by its clusters of elegant, silky yellow flowers. This plant was first described by the early American explorer William Bertram, who found these flowers growing along the coast of Georgia. The seeds were carried along the currents of the rivers and became easily rooted along shorelines. They were then introduced to England in 1788 and today can be found in diverse parts of the world, from India and the Philippines to Mexico, Panama, and Brazil.
In this composition, the Golden Canna floats gracefully in space, without background or setting. The regal simplicity of the composition allows the viewer to focus without distraction on the beauty and delicate complexity of the plant itself. The various parts of the flower are on full display, including the soft and supple petals, tender stem, and succulent, oblong leaves. The main life-size illustration is accompanied by Redouté’s small drawing placed below, which record the flower’s individual anatomical features. These small drawings enables the flower to be identified with precision and cultivated to perfection.
The unequalled botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté occupies a central position in the development of European flower painting. Dubbed the “Raphael of flowers,” he produced over 2,100 published plates depicting more than 1,800 flower species over the course of his career, many of which had never been represented before. Redouté had, as pupils or patrons, five queens and empresses of France, from Marie-Antoinette to Empress Josephine and her successor, Marie Louise. Despite many changes of regime in a turbulent epoch, he managed to work without interruption, a testament to his enduring appeal as an artist. His work represents a uniquely harmonious blend of scientific precision and supremely delicate rendering that has never been surpassed.
“Les Liliacées” is perhaps Redouté’s most celebrated volume, which he issued while under the patronage of the Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon. This volume records the plants of the Lily family, and related flowers, that Josephine collected and cultivated in her magnificent gardens at Malmaison.The luminosity of stipple engraving, a technique perfected by Redouté, is particularly suited to the reproduction of botanical detail. The medium involved engraving a copper plate with a dense grid of dots that could be modulated to convey delicate gradations of color. The edges of the leaves and petals were dotted as well so as to achieve softness of form. Because the ink rested on the paper in miniscule dots, it did not obscure the “light” of the paper beneath the color. After this complex printing process was complete, the prints were finished by hand in watercolor, so as to conform to the exquisite models Redouté provided.