The tradition of botanical illustration reaches back to the Renaissance. It reflected a desire to document nature in all its detail, variety and splendour, and demanded the most precise skill of an artist.
French flower painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) devoted himself exclusively to the botanical arts, capturing the diversity of flowering plants in watercolor paintings which were then published as stipple engravings. A darling of Parisian high society, he was dubbed “the Raphael of flowers”, with a network of élite patrons including Queen Marie Antoinette and later Napoleon’s Josephine.
Now, TASCHEN reprints Redouté’s Choix des plus belles fleures et quelques branches des plus beaux fruits (Selection of the Most Beautiful Blooms and Branches with the Finest Fruits), in which the artist gathered 144 hand-colored stipple engravings of his finest work. First issued between 1827 and 1833, the collection showcases Redouté’s combination of exquisite elegance and accuracy as he roamed Parisian gardens and greenhouses to record delicate plant specimens from all over the world. His tender precision is as delightful as it is informative, transporting the reader to an era of bygone magnificence and botanical discovery.