Painter and Botanist (1759 - 1840)
He was born on 10th July 1759 in the Ardennes town of Saint-Hubert (Luxembourg province, Wallonia) and died in Paris on 19 June 1840.
He was an artist who became best-known for his watercolours of flowers, especially roses, which led to his being nicknamed “the Raphael of flowers”.
He moved to Paris in 1782 to live with his brother Antoine-Ferdinand and met the artists Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle and René Desfontaines, who suggested that he become involved in the then-burgeoning world of botanical illustration. Pierre-Joseph followed their advice and went to Kew Gardens near London in 1787 to study the plants there.
Returning to Paris a year later, he was presented at Court by L’Héritier and Queen Marie-Antoinette became his first patron, appointing him Painting and Drawing-Master to her Privy Chamber. In 1792, he left Versailles to work at the Academy of Sciences, moving in 1798 to become Official Painter and Painting-Master to Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, and then, in 1809, to Napoleon’s second wife, Empress Marie-Louise.
Following the fall of the Napoleonic regime, Redouté joined the teaching staff at the National Museum of Natural History, where he counted many royal and aristocratic ladies among his pupils (including the future Queen Louise-Marie of Belgium).
Redouté’s long career demonstrates his extraordinary capacity for “work as normal” through the violent upheavals of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire that followed it. Working closely with the leading botanists of the period, he produced over fifty volumes of illustrations.