REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840). Fine Original Watercolour of the Hill Glory Bower Flower. Paris: ca 1803.
Single sheet of vellum, float-mounted and framed (18 4/8 x 13 4/8 inches; framed size 25 4/8 x 20 inches). A SUPERB ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR OF THE HILL GLORY BOWER FLOWER, or Clerodendrum viscosum, now Clerodendrum infortunatum, with details of the parts of the flower, pistol and seed beneath the main image in graphite, and signed by the artist "peint par P.J. Redoute" lower left.
Provenance: with the gallery label of Jean-Pierre Selz Gallery, New York, June 4, 1979; with Sotheby's, New York, 19th June, 2015, lot 81
Published as plate 25 in volume one of Redoute and Ventenat's "Jardin de la Malmaison", 1803, "the first great opus of Redoute ... among the most important monuments of botanical illustration ever to be published" (Stafleu in Hunt/Redouteana).
The Hill Glory Bower, a member of the Verbena family, is native to tropical regions of Asia including India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Andaman Islands, and Sri Lanka. The leaves have medicinal use in relieving fever and bowel troubles, both leaves and flowers are apparently used to cure scorpion sting.
"Jardin de la Malmaison" was sponsored by the Empress Josephine, and its plates depict specimens from her gardens, which Ventenat praised in his dedication as a conjunction of "the rarest plants of the French soil [and] the sweetest souvenir of the conquests of your illustrious consort."
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).
Redoute had, as pupils or patrons, five queens and empresses of France, from Marie Antoinette to Josephine's successor, the Empress Marie-Louise. Despite many changes of regime in this turbulent epoch, he worked without interruption, eventually contributing to over fifty books on natural history and archaeology.