Painter to the Empress Josephine Bonaparte

by Susan on February 10, 2013

Pierre Joseph Redoute is arguably the most renowned floral illustrator in history. He painted plants in the royal gardens of Paris using a technique of applying color to etchings by hand.  His etchings were vibrant and detailed.

His talent got him noticed and he soon attracted the attention of Queen Marie Antoinette who selected Redoute to decorate the walls of her small palace.

Redoute’s most famous patron was Empress Josephine, Napolean Bonaparte’s first wife. In 1798, Josephine Bonaparte set out to create a garden unlike any other in Europe.  She built this garden at her country palace, the Chateau de Malmaison.

During Josephine’s day, the garden at Malmaison had over 250 varieties of plants and 200 types of roses. Josephine invited Pierre Joseph Redoute to paint pictures for Malmaison.

Chateau de Malmaison

This photo (courtesy of Wiki Commons) shows the front entrance to the Chateau de Malmaison.

 

Josephine was so impressed with Redoute’s talent, that she soon named him the “Painter to the Empress”.   One of his most famous works was Les Roses, a collection of images of his favorite flower. Working on Les Roses gave Redoute the opportunity to visit Malmaison often.

Les Roses was published in 3 volumes between 1817 and 1824. The book contains an image of the rose “Souvenir de la Malmaison”, a rose still grown today which commemorates Josephine’s garden and the island of Martinique where she was born.

rose souvenir de la malmaison

Photograph of the rose “Souvenir de la Malmaison” (photo by Lynn Hunt from an article in the Christian Science Monitor).

Rose Souvenir de la Malmaison

Pierre Joseph Redoute’s painting of the rose Souvenir de la Malmaison (pictured above) is an incredible botanical print. The painting is so realistic and detailed, it is easy to understand why he became the “Painter to the Empress”.

Below are several images from Pierre Joseph Redoute’s famous work, Les Roses. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do. I think they are simply amazing!

Rosa Centifolia

Rose Centifolia foliacia

Rosa gallica flore giganteo

Rosa gallica flore giganteo

Rosa Alba Regalis

Rosa Alba Regalis

Rosa Gallica pontiana

Rosa Gallica Pontiana

Rose Damascena Celsiana

Rose Damascena Celsiana

Rosa Sulfurea

Rosa Sulfurea

Rosa Indica Fragrans

Rosa Indica Fragrans

 

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