Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pierre Joseph Redouté

Searching for information on Queen Marie-Amélie, I stumbled across a charming website on the life and work of the celebrated Belgian botanical artist Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). A humble man, he is nonetheless considered to have been possibly the greatest floral illustrator of all time. His royal patronesses included Queen Marie-Antoinette and both of Napoléon's empresses, Joséphine and Marie-Louise. Despite hardships and reversals of fortune, Redouté was an inveterate survivor, managing to lead a relatively peaceful life and pursue a brilliant career, even in the turbulent, tragic times of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. During his later years, Redouté enjoyed the support of Louis-Philippe and Marie-Amélie and taught flower painting to their artistically talented eldest daughters, Louise and Marie d'Orléans. He dedicated his masterpiece, the "Choix des Plus Belles Fleurs," a 36-part series of albums featuring exquisite, hand-colored stipple engravings of the loveliest flowers and fruits, to the two young princesses. Louise, as we know, would become the first Queen of the Belgians.


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