Redouté, Pierre Joseph.  “Agave Yuccaefolia.”  [Yucca-leaved Agave]  Plate 329.
Redouté, Pierre Joseph.  “Agave Yuccaefolia.”  [Yucca-leaved Agave]  Plate 329.
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Redouté, Pierre Joseph. “Agave Yuccaefolia.” [Yucca-leaved Agave] Plate 329.

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Pierre Joseph Redouté.  Plate 329.  “Agave Yuccaefolia.”  [Yucca-leaved Agave].  From Les Liliacées.

Paris, 1802-16.  Paper size 20 ½ x 13 ½.  Stipple engravings, printed in color, and finished by hand. Full margins.  Scattered foxing above image.  Very good condition. 

A very finely engraved print by Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759-l840), considered by many the most important of all botanical painters.  The eight volumes of Les Liliacées were done at the height of Redouté’s career, when he was flourishing under the patronage of Josephine, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.  In 1798 Josephine acquired the palace at Malmaison and set about forming a garden and amassing a comprehensive collection of prints.  Les Liliacées, comprising 486 plates of lilies, irises, and other monocotyledons, was inspired by this important garden at Malmaison.

What makes these prints the great masterpiece of botanical illustration that they are considered to be, is both the genius and sophistication of their creator and the outstanding technical skill involved in their production.  Redouté is credited with perfecting the method of stipple engraving and with introducing it from England into France.  It is this method combined with the technique of color printing à la poupée that allowed for the most subtle gradations of color, tone, and modelling, with the result that the structure and texture of the plants could be portrayed with beautiful fidelity.  Rarely are technical skill, artistic talent and botanical knowledge seen to complement one another so well, and it is this combination that makes these plates from Les Liliacées some of the finest botanical prints ever made.

Other Redoutés from this series:

Ixia Liliago  [Lily] Pl. 109

Scilla Autumnalis [Autumn Squill] Pl. 317

Ornithogalum Thyrsoides  [Wonder Flower] Pl. 333

Peronia Stricta  [White-washed Thalia] Pl. 342

Hypoxis erecta  [Star Grass] Pl. 355

Alstrœmeria Ligtu [Inca Lily]