REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840)
Rosa Centifolia crenata. Rosier Centfeuilles à folioles crenélées
[Paris: Firmin Didot], 1817-1824. Stipple engraving printed in black, on ochre-tinted paper, by Chapuy, after Redouté, printed by Rémond. Very good condition. Sheet size: 14 x 10 1/2 inches.
A very rare uncoloured 'connoisseur's' impression on ochre-tinted paper from the first edition of 'Les Roses': Redouté's most famous work, and perhaps the most celebrated flower book of all time
The present uncoloured plate was printed on ochre paper as it was realized that this gave a pleasing effect. The ochre background enhances the subtle gradations of tone achieved using the stipple engraving technique and gives a unique opportunity to appreciate the unrivalled artistry of both Pierre-Joseph Redouté himself and the master-craftsman he employed to translate his watercolour into a print of the highest quality. Redouté learned, whilst on a visit to London, that the most successful impressions of stipple engravings came from well-used plates. A number of black plates would thus be struck to take the edge off the plate before printing in colours. Redouté's printers struck black impressions - always on a paper with a distinct ochre tint - from the plates, and these early impressions were then combined with later colour-printed examples to form the de luxe issues of 'Les Roses'.
Redouté's 'Les Roses' was issued in four formats: a large paper folio with coloured plates, a large paper folio with the plates in two states, folio with coloured plates, and folio with the plates in two states (the present plate comes from this final de luxe form). Gavin Bridson and Donald Wendel, in their magisterial 'Printmaking in the service of botany' catalogue (Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, 1986, item 25) noted that Redouté 'For the interest of connoisseurs' included `a set of black plates as a parallel series to the usual color-printed versions' in 'special issues' of both the present work and his earlier 'Les Liliacées'. The number of these special issues that were produced is unfortunately not recorded but to judge from auction records over the past twenty-five years they are extremely rare: only four complete sets of 'Les Roses' in this format are recorded. The present print therefore comes from an edition that was severely limited, and is certainly much rarer than its colour-printed equivalent.
Cf. Cleveland Collections 807; cf. Dunthorne 232; cf. Hunt Redoutéana 19; cf. Hunt, Printmaking in the Service of Botany 25; cf. Nissen BBI 1599; cf. Pritzel 7455; cf. Ray French 89; cf. Stafleu and Cowan 8748.