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Pierre-Joseph Redouté: “The Raphael of flowers”

Who was Pierre-Jospeh Redouté?

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
-Robert Burns, 1794

redoubteRobert Burns might compare his love to a beautiful rose, but when it comes to flowers of the Regency era, no painter could compare to Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759 –1840). A painter and botanist from the Southern Netherlands, known for his watercolours of roses, lilies and other flowers at Malmaison, he has been called “the Raphael of flowers”.

Redouté was an official court artist of Queen Marie Antoinette, and he continued painting through the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. Redouté survived the turbulent political upheaval to gain international recognition for his precise renderings of plants, which remain as fresh in the early 21st century as when first painted. He collaborated with the greatest botanists of his day and participated in nearly fifty publications depicting both the familiar flowers of the French court and plants from places as distant as Japan, America, South Africa, and Australia. He was painting during a period in botanical illustration (1798 – 1837) that is noted for the publication of outstanding folio editions with coloured plates. Redouté produced over 2,100 published plates depicting over 1,800 different species, many never rendered before. Today he is seen as an important heir to the tradition of the Flemish and Dutch flower painters Brueghel, Ruysch, van Huysum and de Heem.

Flowers by the artist (Rosa centifolia, anemone, and clematis)
Flowers by the artist (Rosa centifolia, anemone, and clematis)

Redouté was born July 10, 1759, in Saint-Hubert, in the present-day Belgian Province of Luxembourg. Both his father and grandfather were painters, and his elder brother, Antoine Ferdinand, was an interior decorator and scenery designer. He would never gain much in the way of formal education, instead leaving home at the age of 13 to earn his living as an itinerant painter, doing interior decoration, portraits and religious commissions. Eventually, in 1782, he made his way to Paris to join his brother in painting scenery for theaters.

In Paris, Redouté met the botanists Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle and René Desfontaines, who steered him towards botanical illustration, a rapidly growing discipline. L’Héritier became his instructor, teaching him to dissect flowers and portray their specific characteristics with precision. L’Heritier also introduced Redouté to members of the court at Versailles, following which Marie Antoinette became his patron. Redouté eventually received the title of Draughtsman and Painter to the Queen’s Cabinet.

botanical illustration of Lilium superbum
botanical illustration of Lilium superbum

Cheveau, a Parisian dealer, brought the young artist to the attention of the botanical artist Gerard van Spaendonck at the Jardin du Roi, which would become the Jardin des Plantes of the National Museum of Natural History in 1793, after the Revolution. Van Spaendonck became another of Redouté’s teachers, especially influencing his handling of watercolor.

Rosa moschata (musk rose)
Rosa moschata (musk rose)

In 1786, Redouté began to work at the National Museum of Natural History cataloguing the collections of flora and fauna and participating in botanical expeditions. In 1787, he left France to study plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew near London, returning the following year. In 1792 he was employed by the French Academy of Sciences. In 1798, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, became his patron and, some years later, he became her official artist. In 1809, Redouté taught painting to Empress Marie-Louise of Austria.

Rosa_centifolia_foliacea_17

After Empress Joséphine’s death (1814), Redouté had some difficult years until he was appointed a master of draughtsmanship for the National Museum of Natural History in 1822. In 1824, he gave some drawing classes at the museum. Many of his pupils were aristocrats or royalty. He became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1825. Although particularly renowned for his botanical exploration of roses and lilies, he thereafter produced paintings purely for aesthetic value.

The fountain erected in honor of Pierre-Joseph Redouté in Saint-Hubert, Belgium
The fountain erected in honor of Pierre-Joseph Redouté in Saint-Hubert, Belgium

Redouté died suddenly on June 19 or 20, 1840, and was interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery. A Brussels school bears his name: the Institut Redouté-Peiffer in Anderlecht.

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An Easy Upcycled Floral Brooch Tutorial

A up cycled floral brooch

How to make your own Upcycled Floral Brooch

rose
Rose brooch made from upcycled Jane Austen pages.

To make this lovely rose pin, you will need:

  • 1 page from a book (Austen? I keep a copy of P&P just for projects) or choose pretty patterned paper.
  • 1 Floral Template
  • 1 brooch or bar pin
  • 1 pearl bead
  • Scissors, craft glue or glue gun
  • Green Paint and paintbrush (or green paper)

Continue reading An Easy Upcycled Floral Brooch Tutorial

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Conserve of Roses, boiled

Most roses are edible. Roses are not the only flowers that can be used to add a delicious and exotic taste to all types of dishes. The flavor of roses, however, is distinct and immediately recognizable, and it looks as wonderful as it tastes.

If you are looking to make your Valentine bouquet last just a bit longer, try this recipe, from Hannah Glasse’s 1747 cookbook, The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy. Below it, you’ll find an updated adaptation.  Of course, if you prefer to try the jam without any effort, several companies do sell their own, ready made versions, as well.

Highly scented roses work best for this project.

Conserve of Roses, boiled
In order to conserve roses, take red roses, take off all the whites at the bottom, or elsewhere, take three times the weight of them in sugar, put to a pint of roses a pint of water, skim it well, shred your roses a little before you put them into water, cover them, and boil the leaves tender in the water, and when they are tender put in your sugar; keep them stirring, lest they burn when they are tender, and the syrup be consumed. Put them up, and so keep them for your use.
Continue reading Conserve of Roses, boiled

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Create A Regency Sachet

This sweet sachet is available in our giftshop!

Our garden is putting in order…The shrubs which border the gravel walk, he says, are only sweetbriar and roses, and the latter of an indifferent sort; we mean to get a few of a better kind, therefore…
Jane Austen to Cassandra
February 8, 1807

Scented sachets are also known as “sweet bags” (an old name for a small sachet cloth bag). Since before recorded time, dried herbs, flowers and other scented materials have been used to   freshen and refresh. Sachets with herbs like hops and lavender can act as a sedative.  These type of sachets are often put in closets and dresser drawers the scent clothes and linens.

Ram’s booklet Little Dodoen, printed in 1606 gave a sachet formula to take to bed to help one sleep:

Take dry rose leaves keep them in a glass which will keep them sweet and then take powder of mints, powder of cloves in a grosse powder. Put the same to the Rose leaves then put all these together in a bag and take that to bed with you and it will cause you to sleep, and it is good to smell unto at other times.

The following recipe, from How to Cook, a recipe and household book printed in 1810, reads much like this much older recipe, but with the addition of musk. In Jane Austen’s day, musk came from the east: India, Pakistan, Tibet, China, Siberia and Mongolia. To obtain the musk, a musk deer is killed and its gland, also called “musk pod”, is removed. Upon drying, the reddish-brown paste inside the musk pod turns into a black granular material called “musk grain”, which is then tinctured with alcohol. The aroma of the tincture gives a pleasant odor only after it is considerably diluted. No other natural substance has such a complex aroma associated with so many contradictory descriptions; however, it is usually described abstractly as animalic, earthy and woody or something akin to the odor of baby’s skin.

Today, the musk deer is endangered and synthetic musk is used almost exclusively. Aside from the musk (which is added only “if you please”) this recipe is easily created with the handiest of kitchen items, for Bay Salt, is actually nothing more than Sea Salt, obtained by evaporation and rose leaves, of course, are freshly dried rose petals.

Linen, To Perfume.
-Take dried rose leaves, cloves and mace beaten to a powder, with a very small proportion of bay salt; sew it up in little bags. You may add a few grains of musk if you please.
How to Cook, 1810

Visit our giftshop for a range of Regency scented sachets!

Musk and Sachet information from Wikipedia.com

 

 

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Happy the Lab’rer

A up cycled floral brooch

Happy the Lab’rer

Happy the lab’rer in his Sunday clothes!
In light-drab coat, smart waistcoat, well-darn’d hose,
And hat upon his head, to church he goes;
As oft, with conscious pride, he downward throws
A glance upon the ample cabbage rose
That, stuck in button-hole, regales his nose,
He envies not the gayest London beaux.
In church he takes his seat among the rows,
Pays to the place the reverence he owes,
Likes best the prayers whose meaning least he knows,
Lists to the sermon in a softening doze,
And rouses joyous at the welcome close.

 

This poem by Jane Austen was part of a game played by the Austen family. The object was to write as long a poem as book rosepossible with words rhyming with rose. A full list of submissions from the family can be found in the Hands on Regency: Games to Play portion of this magazine.

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