Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759
- 1841) came to begin his masterpiece by way of draftsman in
the Queen's Cabinet of Marie Antoinette and official flower
painter to the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (a position which
helped him to survive the French Revolution) leading to his
appointment as flower painter to the Empress Josephine at a
salary of 18,000 francs (about $50,000 today).
of Les Roses was a costly venture at 750 francs each
(approx. the value of this single image today).
unquestionably the foremost French botanical illustrator of
his age -- indeed, many say of any age. He enjoyed a unique
position of favour both before and after the Revolution with
both aristocrats and peasants alike.
His matchless artistry
was also admired by Audubon, who made a special trip to Redouté's
studio in Paris to exchange work with him. A keen observer
and teacher to the end, as he lay impoverished upon his death
bead at the age of 82, a student placed a flower into his hand
to study. He knew both great hardship and vast wealth during
his interesting life, but he has left he world an incalculable
legacy through the richness of his botanical images and particularly
Les Roses & Les Liliacées .
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