Gallery of Iris plates in Redoute's Les Liliaceae
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Joseph-Pierre Redoute is often considered one of the best botanical artists. Working over 200 years ago for the Empress Josephine he created Les Liliaceae, produced in 8 tomes between 1805-1816 he depicted 40 Irises that were being grown in the famous garden of the Chateau de Malmaison. While Napolean was spending his time conquering Europe, Josephine was assembling an incredible plant collection. At the time Thomas Jefferson expressed the notion that the greatest act a person could do for their country was to introduce a new useful plant species to cultivation. His thoughts in America echoed in the mind of Josephine and she hired Redoute to document her collections.
Les Liliaceae depicted almost 500 liliaceus plants and the large folios very done life-size. It gives us a great insight into what was available to great estate gardens in that time period. Although a magnificient work there are a couple of minor flaws. Redoute drew the line drawings but to mass produce a number of these books assistants were needed to hand color the drawings. Each book could have some variation from the next depending on the assistant. For example the first Iris depicted, is Susiana. It appears a darker purple than in real life. Even then we had the same type of problems with color that we have with todays photography.
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at
-- BobPries - 2014-12-02