REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Fine Original Watercolour Drawing of a Red Bottlebrush Flower. Paris: 1812
Single sheet of vellum, matted and framed (19 x 13 4/8 inches; frame size 24 4/8 x 19 inches). A MAGNIFICENT ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR DRAWING ON VELLUM OF A RED BOTTLEBRUSH FLOWER, with border in sanguine and gold, captioned in gold beneath the image "Metrosyderos Lophanta" [sic] and signed by the artist "P.J. Redoute 1812" lower left.
Illustrated by Redoute as early as 1806 in Duhamel du Monceau's Traité des arbres et arbustes, Nouvelle édition [Nouveau Duhamel], volume III, plate 56.
Native to the eastern coast of Australia, and first introduced to Europe when a specimen of Callistemon citrinus was introduced to Kew Gardens in London by Joseph Banks in 1789, and announced in Curtis' The Botanical Magazine, Volume 8, 1794, page 260. Now recognised as one of the Callistemon genus of shrubs in the family Myrtaceae, first described as a genus in 1814.
While the first quarter of the nineteenth century was dominated by his work on Les Liliacées and Les Roses, Redouté also produced a selection of other original works not necessarily destined for re-creation in published form. Some of these watercolors were additional studies from the Empress Joséphine's gardens at Malmaison, as is most probably the case with Redouté's painting of the Metrosyderos lophantha, or bottle-brush. These exhibit the same virtuosity as his studies for Les Liliacées and Les Roses, showing the same hallmarks of a white vellum background and bluegreen leaves that Redouté so favored.
Redoute was first brought to Royal patronage by Marie-Antoinette in 1788 when she appointed him Dessinatteur du Cabinet de la Reine and granted him access to the Petit Trianon. From then until the end of his long life Redoute weathered the political storms of France with remarkable ease "he survived the difficult years of the Revolution and the Restoration and found approval with all the rulers who changed in quick succession" (Hinz). However it was ten years later that his most creative period began under the patronage of the Empress Josephine when she acquired the Malmaison Chateau in Rueil, south of Paris: "she was passionately interested in botany and horticulture, and the design and layout of the Malmaison chateau garden became her personal concern. She went to great efforts to collect beautiful and rare plants from all over the world and to cultivate them in her gardens…" (Hinz).