|European Watercolors — Redouté - Still Life with Roses and an Anemone|
|Redouté - Still Life with Roses and an Anemone
Signed and dated lower right: P J Redouté 1832
Published: Paris 1832
Medium: Watercolor on parchment mounted on board
Dimensions: 13 x 9.8 inches
HRH the late Princess Lilian of Belgium was a legendary beauty. The writer Charles d'Ydewalle described her as being "as beautiful as a Greek night". Her quick wit and keen intelligence (she fluently spoke English, French, German and Dutch) added to her magnetism and she gathered around her a devoted group of friends of physicians, scientists, artists, writers, actors, sportsmen and diplomats. Her son Prince Alexandre of Belgium also left records of her love of art. "For many years,” he writes after her death, “more than I can recall, she enjoyed the environment of objects, even works of art that expressed a certain quality of life. Wherever we lived she created a sort of 'impregnation of space' that gave the visitor an impression of evidence and uniqueness."
It is with little surprise then, that a lady of such refined taste should own a work by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. She was most certainly captivated by the artist skill in capturing the fleeting beauty of flowers. She perhaps also considered it fitting that her collection contain a work by an artist of Belgian birth, like herself.
Described both as the "Rembrandt" and the "Raphael" of flowers by nineteenth-century critics, Redouté occupied a central position in the development of European botanical art. He was born into a family of artists in the Belgian Ardennes, and his talents were recognized and fostered from an early age. He travelled to France where the genre received royal patronage. He studied botany with the noted naturalist Heritier de Brutelle, and learned to paint in watercolor on vellum from Gerard van Spaendonck, flower painter to the French king. By the master painter's own account, his pupil's work was finer than his own.
Redouté is widely renowned as the author to two important botanical publications, Les Liliacees and Les Roses. Both were completed while he was in the service of the Empress Josephine and were inspired by her magnificent gardens at Malmaison. Redouté also completed various bouquet compositions and it was these that many of his pupils and patrons (who included five queens and empresses of France, from Marie Antoinette to Josephine's successor, the Empress Marie-Louise) collected or attempted to copy. In this beautiful example, Redouté captures the softness of the roses’ tender petals and gentle yet vibrant nuances of the anemone. All are staged against a dark background which magnificently emphasizes the flowers’ delicate coloring.
ROVENANCE: Collection of HRH the late Princess Lilian of Belgium, Princess de Rethy