In 1798, Josephine acquired a
grand estate, Malmaison, and began to fill its gardens with the rarest
plants that the old and new worlds could furnish. Redouté flourished under
Josephine's reign, publishing during this period the monumental Les Liliacées (1802-1816), which named the most dramatic plate after his
benefactress, the "Amaryllis Josephinae".
Redouté is credited with
perfecting the stipple engraving technique and applying it to rendering his
flower paintings. In describing this technique Redouté said, "The process
which we invented in 1796 for colour printing consists in the employment of
these colours on a single plate by a method of our own. We have thereby
softness and brilliance of a watercolour, as can be seen in our...Liliacées
and other works." In recognition of this valuable contribution, Redouté was
awarded a medal by Louis XVIII.
Only two hundred copies of
Les Liliacées were engraved, appearing in eighty parts from 1802 to 1816.
Josephine's support made the work possible, herself ordering several sets.
Napoleon divorced Josephine in 1809, and she died in 1814. In the absence of
Josephine¹s patronage, Redouté's fortunes began to decline. Somewhat
impoverished, he died in 1840, suffering a stroke as he examined the corolla
of a white lily a student had brought to him.
Les Liliacées, when found in this
quality, are absolutely breathtaking. The flawless bone-white paper in this
folio allows the brilliance of color and nuance of tonality to shine
through. It is not possible to overstate the beauty of these images.
range from $900- $18,000