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This striking originally hand-colored stipple engraving is from Pierre Joseph Redoute’s Choix des Plus Belles Fleurs. This first edition work was published in Paris in 1827 by Panckoucke.
Redoute’s name is synonymous with beauty and in the world of botanical art he is known as the best. Choix is often considered some of Redoute’s most desirable work, a culmination of his impressive skill and talent. He aimed to make the composition more appealing to the upper classes which created highly decorative engravings.
Redoute’s fame is due in large part to his diligent effort to perfect the use of stipple engraving. This labor intensive, and therefore expensive, technique creates subtle yet stunning variations of color making it superior to the engraving alone. Each plate was created using the ‘a la poupee’ process in which the color was applied before the printing. Hand-finished coloring was painstakingly applied after printing.
Redoute was renowned for his artistic ability and tutored such people as Queen Marie-Antoinette, Empress Josephine, Marie-Louise, and Queen Marie-Amelie. Redoute influenced a breadth of artists that followed him including Turpin, Poiteau, Bessa, and Prevost. Redoute is widely considered the finest botanical illustrator of the early 19th century, if not throughout history.
The process of stipple engraving and color printing give the Redoute engravings their luminous quality. Stippling is an etching process that employs dots instead of lines to form the image, which is then color printed by applying colored inks directly to the copper plate for each impression. The use of colored inks, greens and browns to print the stems and leaves, and reds and pinks to print the flowers, create a more luminous print by eliminating the necessity to paint watercolor over a back inked image.