Madame Antoinette Pauline Knip (French, 1781-1851), Original study for Plate 32 “Colombe Vlouvlou”
Madame Antoinette Pauline Knip (French, 1781-1851)
Original study for Plate 32 “Colombe Vlouvlou”
A study for Conrad Temminck and Florentine Prévost’s Les Pigeons
Gouache on vellum
Signed in pen and ink along branch: Pauline de Courcelles [Maiden name]
Inscribed in pencil at lower right: Colombe VlouVlou iles de l’ocean-picifique
Frame size: 31 ¼ x 24 ¼ in
Madame Knip’s indicate this species was procured from the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
Madame Knip, née Pauline Rifer de Courcelles, was born in Paris; her father was a senior navy officer. Knip studied art under Jacques Barrabandand exhibited her works at 1808, 1810, 1812, and 1814 salons. She met landscape painter Joseph Knip, a student of Van Spaendonck, at Barraband’s studio. They married in 1808 and later divorced in 1824.
Knip’s paintings of birds, particularly the pigeons, were used in Coenraad Jacob Temminck’s multi-part work Histoire Naturelle des Pigeons et des Gallinaces. Knip came highly recommended to the project, with noted naturalists Georges Cuvier and Bernard Germain de Lacépède vouching for her artistic talent. After winning a gold medal at an 1810 exhibition, she was presented in court to Napoleon’s second wife, Empress Marie Louise. Knip’s prestige was shaded because she altered Temminck’s parts nine, and later, of this multi-part work, retitling it to Les Pigeons by Madame Knip with Temminck only being the author of the text. When the work was being prepared, Temminck lived in Holland, and de Courcelles resided in Paris and was relied upon to supervise the engraving and printing. Temminck discovered the alterations only after 1812 and found that he could not complain about piracy because of her connection to royal patronage. However, he added a note on the matter at the end of the third and last volume of his 1815 work, Histoire naturelle générale des pigeons et des gallinacés. While perhaps seen as a minor infraction these days, at the time, the sordid affair provided “delightful gossip.”
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