Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

Redoute, the Raphael of Flowers, from Librairie Thomas-Scheler

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Pierre-Joseph Redoute from Librairie Thomas-Scheler.


By Michael Stillman

We recently received a book/catalogue from French bookseller Librairie Thomas-Scheler focused on the great illustrator Pierre-Joseph Redoute. Entitled Le Raphael des fleurs (the Raphael of flowers), it focuses on the career and drawings of the great French flower artist of the late 18th and early 19th century. Redoute may be thought of as more an illustrator than artist as his focus was on perfect depiction of what he saw, yet his works, beautiful as the flowers themselves, cannot help but be considered works of art as well.

Redoute was an official artist for French royalty of the era, first Queen Marie-Antoinette, and after her head was done away with, Napoleon's wife Empress Josephine. Somehow he managed to survive the chaos of the French Revolution in between despite his association with the older Queen. However, it was after Josephine's death, when Redoute was forced to make a living in the marketplace, that he published his greatest work. Most notably was Les Roses, his illustrated work on roses, the flower drawings for which he is best known. No artist is more closely associated with the rose than Pierre-Joseph Redoute.

Librairie Thomas-Scheler published a Redoute catalogue last year. This one is similar, as their Redoute catalogues are not typical items-for-sale compilations, but rather an overview of the career and works of the artist. In other words, they do not need updating to reflect changing stock. There are two primary differences between the two: (1) the latest catalogue is in greater depth and even more spectacular, with additional Redoute images and a hard cover; and (2) it is written in the French language. As such, those who speak French fluently but struggle with English will find this edition more suitable than the previous one. For those, such as this reviewer, with the opposite situation, it will be better to refer readers to our earlier review of the edition written in English. That review may be reached by clicking this link.

Librairie Thomas-Scheler is reached at +33 (0)1 43 26 97 69 or basane@thomas-scheler.fr.

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