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 (1759 –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" and has been called the greatest botanical illustrator of all time.[1]

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. He collaborated with the greatest botanists of his day and participated in nearly fifty publications depicting both the familiar flowers of the French court and plants from places as distant as Japan, America, South Africa, and Australia. He was painting during a period in botanical illustration (1798 – 1837) that is noted for the publication of outstanding folio editions with coloured plates. Redouté produced over 2,100 published plates depicting over 1,800 different species, many never rendered before. Today he is seen as an important heir to the tradition of the Flemish and Dutch flower painters Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum and de Heem.

Early life[edit]

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

Redouté was born July 10, 1759, in Saint-Hubert, in the present-day Belgian Province of Luxembourg. Both his father and grandfather were painters, and his elder brother, Antoine Ferdinand, was an interior decorator and scenery designer. He would never gain much in the way of formal education, instead leaving home at the age of 13 to earn his living as an itinerant painter, doing interior decoration, portraits and religious commissions. Eventually, in 1782, he made his way to Paris to join his brother in painting scenery for theaters.

Painting career[edit]

In Paris, Redouté met the botanists Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle and René Desfontaines, who steered him towards botanical illustration, a rapidly growing discipline. L'Héritier became his instructor, teaching him to dissect flowers and portray their specific characteristics with precision. L'Heritier also introduced Redouté to members of the court at Versailles, following which Marie Antoinette became his patron. Redouté eventually received the title of Draughtsman and Painter to the Queen's Cabinet.

Cheveau, a Parisian dealer, brought the young artist to the attention of the botanical artist Gerard van Spaendonck at the Jardin du Roi, which would become the Jardin des Plantes of the National Museum of Natural History in 1793, after the Revolution. Van Spaendonck became another of Redouté's teachers, especially influencing his handling of watercolor.

In 1786, Redouté began to work at the National Museum of Natural History cataloguing the collections of flora and fauna and participating in botanical expeditions. In 1787, he left France to study plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew near London, returning the following year. In 1792 he was employed by the French Academy of Sciences. In 1798, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, became his patron and, some years later, he became 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 Empress Joséphine's death (1814), Redouté had some difficult years until he was appointed a master of draughtsmanship for the National Museum of Natural History in 1822. In 1824, he gave some drawing classes at the museum. Many of his pupils were aristocrats or royalty. He became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1825. Although particularly renowned for his botanical exploration of roses and lilies, he thereafter produced paintings purely for aesthetic value.[2]

Redouté died suddenly on June 19 or 20, 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.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)[4]


  1. ^ Schmidt, Alesandra M., and Trudy B. Jacoby. "Herbs to Orchids: Botanical Illustration in the Nineteenth Century". Watkinson Exhibition Catalogs, Paper 3, 1996.
  2. ^ cdpb.
  3. ^ "Author Query for 'Redouté'". International Plant Names Index. 
  4. ^ 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]