Language: Trilingual in English, French, and German
He was known as the 'Raphael of flowers' and rightly so: Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) devoted himself exclusively to the task of capturing the diversity of the flowering plants in naturalistic watercolor paintings. He worked in Paris as a botanical illustrator for rich and influential patrons for nearly half a century, during which he documented remarkable, rare plants and flora new to the science of his day. Nearly all of his watercolors were published as copper engravings in large formats and launched on the market with botanical descriptions as sumptuously designed publications in small editions that are today extremely rare and superlative collector's items.
The Choix des Plus Belles Fleures et Quelques Branches des Plus Beaux Fruits ("Selection of the Most Beautiful Blooms and Branches with the Finest Fruits"), issued in 36 parts between 1827 and 1833 is a late work of Redouté's, in which he published 144 hand-colored stipple engravings of his best representations of flora in revised form along with a few novelty items. It conveys a glimpse of the long-vanished magnificence of the greenhouses and gardens in and around Paris which delighted the elite of France in the first part of the 19th century.
Prof. Dr. H. Walter Lack is Director at the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem and Professor at the Free University of Berlin. He has published The Flora Graeca Story (Oxford, 1998), A Garden of Eternity (Berne, 2000), and most recently Florilegium Imperiale (Munich, 2006).