LE BOUQUET ROYAL.
(Paris: Mademoiselle Redouté, 1844). 505 x 325 mm. (20 x 12 3/4").  leaves of text.
Loose as issued in original printed paper wrapper, in a ca. 1930s marbled paper tray case trimmed in reddish brown calf, gilt titling to back, the case in a well-made matching slipcase also trimmed with leather (the upper joint of the traycase cracked). With lithograph portrait of Redouté and FOUR FINE STIPPLE ENGRAVINGS OF ROSES, printed in color and FINISHED BY HAND. An Oak Spring Flora 61; Dunthorne 236 (1844 ed.); Nissen, BBI 1590; Pritzel 7457 (1843 ed.). ◆The wrapper repaired and reinforced along fold and lightly soiled, trivial tears and smudges, (a half-inch repaired tear to mount of portrait), otherwise fine, the clean, bright plates entirely free of the foxing that often plagues this work, and with colors so fresh and true one can almost smell the roses.
This is the final work by Belgian painter and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840), known as the "Raphael of flowers." It was chosen for inclusion in "An Oak Spring Flora" because it characterized the artist's "elegant period" at the end of his life, when "his watercolours were no longer painstakingly painted 'd'après nature,' but were the fruit of a consummate technique." The "Bouquet" contains hand-colored engravings of four roses not included in his masterful monograph on the flower--the Clémentine rose, the Amélie rose, the Adélaide rose, and the Hélene rose--as well as a portrait of Redouté lithographed by Francois-Forunte-Antoine Ferogio after Marie Eléonore Godefory. Redouté's talent was such that he weathered the turbulent politics of his time to serve as court painter and art instructor to Marie Antoinette, to both of Napoleon's empresses (Josephine and Marie-Louise), and to Louis Philippe I's queen, Marie-Amélie. The artist painted many botanical specimens, but it was with roses that he excelled, creating what some have called "portraits" of the queen of flowers. The delicate delineation and careful coloring give his roses an extremely realistic, almost three-dimensional, quality. To reproduce his paintings for books, Redouté turned to stipple engraving. He had been introduced to the technique by Francesco Bartolozzi, and found that the use of dots, rather than just lines, created the subtly shaded effect he sought. He came up with his own trademark method of stipple engraving, combining it with an innovative color printing process that replicated his paintings beautifully. This posthumously published work was first issued in 1843 by the Marchands de Nouveautés and was dedicated by Redouté's widow and daughter to the artist's final royal patroness, Marie-Amélie de Bourbon (1782-1866). Our edition was published the following year for Mademoiselle Redouté. We were only able to trace one sale of the 1844 edition at auction: the de Belder copy, sold by Sotheby's in 1987 for a hammer price of £3,800 ($6,194). The 1843 edition has sold at auction four times since 1976, but all of those copies suffered from some degree of browning and foxing to the plates, happily absent from the present collection. (ST17888)