Pierre-Joseph Redouté

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Pierre-Joseph Redouté
An oil on canvas in brown tones of a white man with short brown hair. He is sitting side-on, facing to the right of the picture, with his chin on his left hand. He wears a frock coat and shirt with a wide neck tie. He has a faint smile.
Born (1759-07-10)10 July 1759
Saint-Hubert, Austrian Netherlands
Died 19 June 1840(1840-06-19) (aged 80)
Paris, France
Nationality Belgian
Education Jardin du Roi
Known for Botanical illustration
Movement Flower painting
Awards Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur (1825)

Pierre-Joseph Redouté (10 July 1759 – 19 June 1840), was a painter and botanist from the Southern Netherlands, known for his watercolours of roses, lilies and other flowers at Malmaison. He was nicknamed "The Raphael of flowers".

He was an official court artist of Queen Marie Antoinette, and he continued painting through the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. Redouté survived the turbulent political upheaval to gain international recognition for his precise renderings of plants, which remain as fresh in the early 21st century as when first painted.

Paris was the cultural and scientific centre of Europe during an outstanding period in botanical illustration (1798 – 1837), one noted for the publication of several folio books with coloured plates. Enthusiastically, Redouté became an heir to the tradition of the Flemish and Dutch flower painters Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum and de Heem. Redouté contributed over 2,100 published plates depicting over 1,800 different species, many never rendered before.

Early life[edit]

Redouté was born in Saint-Hubert, in the present-day Belgian Province of Luxembourg.

The fountain erected in honor of Pierre-Joseph Redouté in Saint-Hubert, Belgium.

Although he was relatively lacking in formal education, both Redouté's father and grandfather were painters. He left home at the age of 13 to earn his living as an itinerant Belgian painter, doing interior decoration, portraits and religious commissions.


In 1782 Redouté joined his elder brother, Antoine Ferdinand, an interior decorator and scenery designer in Paris. There he met the botanist and book lover Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle, and René Desfontaines, who steered him towards botanical illustration, a rapidly growing discipline.

In 1786 Redouté began work at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle cataloguing the collections of flora and fauna and participating in botanical expeditions, notably Bonaparte's Egyptian expedition.[1] In 1787, he left to study plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew near London.

In 1788, Redouté returned to Paris. In 1792 he was employed by the French Academy of Sciences. Cheveau, a Parisian dealer, brought the young artist to the attention of botanical artist Gerard van Spaendonck at the Jardin du Roi, which became the Jardin des Plantes of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle in 1793, after the Revolution. Van Spaendonck became Redouté's teacher. And L'Heritier became his patron,[2] who taught him to dissect flowers and portray their diagnostic characteristics. L'Heritier also introduced Redouté to members of the court at Versailles. Marie Antoinette became his patron. Redouté received the title of Draughtsman and Painter to the Queen's Cabinet.

In 1798, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, became his patron and, some years later, he was her official artist. In 1809, Redouté taught painting to Empress Marie-Louise of Austria.

Later career and legacy[edit]

Flowers by the artist (Rosa centifolia, anemone, and clematis)

After Josephine's death (1814), Redouté's fortunes fell, until he was appointed as a master of design for the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in 1822. In 1824, he gave some drawing classes at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle. He taught many female royal personages, mostly Belgian. He became a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in 1825. Although particularly renowned for his botanical exploration of roses and lilies, he thereafter produced paintings purely for aesthetic value including those of the celebrated Choix des plus belles Fleurs[3]

Redouté was capable of overcoming successive political crises, without great struggle, and surviving under different political régimes. He collaborated with the greatest botanists of his day and participated in nearly fifty publications. Over his long career, Redouté painted the gardens at the Petite Trianon of Marie Antoinette as her official court artist. During the French Revolution and Reign of Terror, he was appointed to document gardens which became national property. However, during the patronage of the generous Empress Josephine, Redouté's career flourished, and he produced his most sumptuous books portraying plants from places as distant as Japan, South Africa and Australia as well as Europe and America.

Jean Lechanteur wrote in La voie royale: continuité wallonne en France:

Le premier artiste liégeois du XVIIIe siècle à Paris, Jean Duvivier marche sur la voie tracée par Warin, puisqu'il accède aux charges de graveur des médailles des rois Louis XIV [...] L'ascension de Grétry ne doit pas éclipser les brillants parcours de Gilles Demarteau, reçu à l'Académie en 1759, un an avant d'être nommé graveur de desseins du cabinet du roi et de Pierre-Joseph Redouté prouve la capacité de survivre aux changements de régime: dessinateur et peintre du cabinet de Marie-Antoinette, dessinateur de l'Académie des sciences, peintre de fleurs de l'impératrice Marie-Joséphine, professeur de l'impératrice Marie-Louise ...

—Jean Lechanteur, Les arts et les lettres à l'époque moderne ("Art and letters in the modern era")[4]

Jean Duvivier, the foremost Liege artist in Paris in the 18th century, follows in Warin's footsteps, since taking charge of medal engraving for Louis XIV. [...] The rise of Grétry cannot eclipse the shining path of Gilles Demarteau, received into the Académie française in 1759, a year before being appointed engraver to the King's Cabinet, and Pierre-Joseph Redouté proves his capacity to survive in the changing régime: designer and painter to the cabinet of Marie Antoinette, designer from the French Academy of Sciences, flower painter of Empress Marie-Joséphine, teacher of Empress Marie-Louise...

He died 19 or 20 June 1840 and was interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

A Brussels school bears his name: the Institut Redouté-Peiffer in Anderlecht.

Principal works[edit]

  • Geraniologia,, ed. Petri-Francisci Didot (1787–88)
  • Traité des arbres et arbustes que l'on cultive en France, par Duhamel. Nouvelle édition, avec des figures, d'après les dessins de P. J. Redouté, 7 vols. (1800–1819)
  • Les Liliacées, 8 vols. (1802–1816); Taschen America (2000) ISBN 3-8228-6407-2; SCD, University of Strasbourg. (1802-1816) On line.
  • Les Roses, 3 vols. (1817–1824); French & European Pubns (1954) ISBN 0-320-05904-9; Pierre-Joseph Redoute, Sandra Raphael (Narrator), Ian Jackson (Translator), CD-ROM Octavo (2002) ISBN 1-891788-28-0; NYPL On Line. or Rare Book Room (1817–1824 from Library of Congress) or Rare Book Room (1817 from The Warnock Library). Taschen has also published this as part of its 25th Anniversary series.
  • Redouté, Pierre-Joseph; with Candolle, Augustin Pyramus (1790). Plantes grasses. Levrault. 
  • Choix des plus belles fleurs et de quelques branches des plus beaux fruits. Dédié à LL. AA. RR. les princesses Louise et Marie d'Orléans (1827)
  • Catalogue de 486 liliacées et de 168 roses peintes par P.-J. Redouté (1829)
  • Alphabet Flore (1835)

Posthumously published, in 1989:

  • Champignons du Luxembourg. Planches inédites de Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840). Manuscrit de Louis Marchand (1807–1843). Ministère d'Etat. Government commission for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Independence of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; Musée national d'histoire naturelle; Société des naturalistes luxembourgeois, 1989.



  • "Redouté, Pierre-Joseph". SCD, Universities of Strasbourg. 
  • Redouté, Pierre-Joseph; Raphael, Sandra (narrator); Jackson, Ian (translator) (1827–1833). Choix des Plus Belles Fleurs. Paris: California Academy of Sciences / Octavo. ISBN 1-59110-053-4. [6]


  1. ^ uscd.
  2. ^ "Stanley Johnston, "Gerard von Spaendonck and Pierre Joseph Redouté". The Holden Arboretum. On line. Retrieved 15 July 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ cdpb.
  4. ^ Lechanteur, Jean. Les arts et les lettres à l'époque moderne in Demoulin, Bruno; Kupper, Jean-Louis, eds. (2003). Histoire de la Wallonie de la préhistoire au XXIe siècle [History of Wallonia from prehistory to the 21st century] (in French). Toulouse: Privat. p. 232. 
  5. ^ "Author Query for 'Redouté'". International Plant Names Index. 
  6. ^ Taschen was due to release its version of this book on 1 October 2009; Rare Book Room On Line


  • Blunt, Wilfrid; Stearn, William T. (1950). "The Art of Botanical Illustration". The Age of Redouté. London: Collins. pp. 173–183. ISBN 0-486-27265-6. 
  • Dierkens, Alain; Lawalrée, Andre; Duvosquel, Jean-Marie (1996). Pierre-Joseph Redouté, 1759–1840: La Famille, L'Oeuvre, ("Pierre-Joseph Redouté, 1759–150: his life and works"). Saint-Hubert, Belgium: Centre Pierre-Joseph Redouté. ISBN 2-87193-238-7. 
  • Redouté, Pierre-Joseph. "Choix des Plus Belles Fleurs". Octavo Editions. Retrieved 27 July 2010.  CD-ROM
  • Ridge, Antonia (1974). The Man Who Painted Roses: Story of Pierre-Joseph Redoute. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0571105540. 

External links[edit]