Jean-Pierre Redouté was born in Saint-Hubért in what is today Belgium. He came from a family of painters and decorators, and left home at age 13 to pursue painting. In 1782 he made his way to Paris, where he was introduced to many aristocrats. In Paris he moved toward botanical illustration and became official draughtsman and painter to Queen Marie-Antoinette. He worked and studied at the French National Museum of Natural History, the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens near London, and the French Academy of Sciences. His success as an artist also led him to be the official draughtsman and painter of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Empress Josephine, under whose patronage Redouté completed Les Lilliacées. Les Lilliacées was Redouté’s most widely published book of prints and was immensely successful in its day. The book depicts not only members of the lily family, but closely related families that could have been taken for liliaceae found in the Empress Josephine’s gardens. This print depicts Yucca Aloifalia, a plant native Atlantic and Gulf Coast America. Rather than the usual progression of growth that Redouté gives, we have simply a branch full of blossoms. Redouté most likely used this depiction to show his skill. In creating his prints, Redouté mastered a technique called stipple engraving, which uses dots rather than lines to create minute color variations. Looking at his engravings, they almost appear to be watercolors due to the subtle nature of Redouté’s technique.
-Constantine Botimer, Class of 2019