REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Superb Original Watercolour of Golden-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium Convolutum. Paris: ca 1802.
Single sheet of vellum, float-mounted and framed (18 4/8 x 13 4/8 inches; framed size 31 x 26). REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). A MAGNIFICENT ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR DRAWING ON VELLUM OF THE GOLDEN-EYED GRASS, with details of the parts of the flower, pistol and seed beneath the main image in graphite, and signed by the artist "P.J. Redoute" lower left.
Provenance: Empress Joséphine, by descent to Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, then by descent; Zurich, 23 May 1935, part of lot 82; Erhard Weyhe; with Sotheby's, New York, 20 November 1985, part of lot 47; with Arader Galleries 1985; with Christie's, London, 7 July 1998, lot 238
Plate 47 from Les Liliacées, native to the west coast of North America from British Columbia to central California, where it prefers a wet habitat, often found in coastal regions. 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. 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).