REDOUTÉ, Pierre Joseph (1759-1840)
Album de Redouté
Paris: Galerie de Bossange père, . Large folio. (21 1/8 x 14 inches). Letterpress dedication leaf to the Duchesse de Berry from the publisher. Stipple-engraved title page by Charlin depicting a wreath of roses surrounding the title printed in gold, 24 stipple-engraved plates before numbers, printed in colours and finished by hand, by de Gouy (10), Langlois (6), Bessin (1), Couten (1), Talbeaux (1), Chapuy (1), Tassaert (2) and Allais (2).
Original yellow publisher's boards, front cover printed in black with letterpress title, the same engraved wreath as on title-page together with letterpress dedication, an applied strip bearing the woodcut arms of the Duchesse, letterpress imprint, all within an ornamental typographic border. Modern green morocco-backed box.
Provenance: Duchesse de Berry (armorial bookplate on front paste-down, the lower portion reading 'Bibliothèque de Rosny' having been being removed)
The rarest and most beautiful of Redouté publications: a synthesis of his genius, this collection represents the artist's own selection of his greatest published images. In the original publisher's boards from the library of the dedicatée, the Duchesse de Berry, with her bookplate.
The Album was conceived by the Parisian publisher Bossange and dedicated to Redouté's great patron, the Duchesse de Berry. Each copy of the Album is unique; as Madol and Stearn's "Redouté Bibliography" states, "Complete copies of this book are found with varying numbers of plates, from 24 to 30, nor are the plates themselves always the same." Each Album was assembled individually from the stock of unsurpassable images from Redouté's greatest works. The present copy, complete with its title-page and 24 engravings, is composed of plates from Les Roses (4), Les Liliacées (13), Plantes Grasses (2) and Jardin de la Malmaison (5). The plates in the Album are not simply reprinted from the earlier publications; some have been reworked, and in many instances, bulbs and anatomical details have been "stopped out," creating new cleaner images where the beauty of the plants is not obscured by extraneous detail. This has led some bibliographers to refer to these images as proofs. For more than 16 years Redouté held the position of "Maître du dessin au Muséum d'histoire naturelle". During this period he gave at least 30 public lectures per year entirely devoted to the theory and practice of natural history painting. This post gave him a great deal of publicity and his lectures were attended by many high-ranking persons, a number of whom became pupils. These included Queen Hortense, the Duchesse de Berry, Lady Adelaïde d'Orléans (King Louis-Philippe's sister) and Louise Marie, the future Queen of Belgium. "Grâce à son enseignement Rédouté était très connu. Il en profita pour mettre en vente un Album de Redouté, groupant 24 planches reprises de ses grands ouvrages antérieurs et dédicacé à la Duchesse de Berry" (Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Exhibition catalogue, Paris 1982). The Album de Redouté is extremely rare - certainly the rarest of all Redouté's major works - and it is known to collectors almost exclusively through the 1954 facsimile edition edited by Sacheverell Sitwell and Roger Madol, with no examples in the watershed sales of botanical books from the libraries of Plesch and de Belder.
Hunt Redoutéana 38; Nissen BBI 1589 (copy with title-page and 29 plates); Great Flower Books (1990) p. 128 ("Complete copies of this book are found with varying numbers of plates from 24-30"); not in Pritzel.