Skip to main content
Michigan State University

Vibrant Treasures: Botanical Illustrations from the 16th to 20th Centuries: Pierre-Joseph Redouté

This guide provides more information about the plant-centric illustrations, herbals and books displayed in the exhibit in the MSU Libraries Special Collections Department Reading Room, March-May, 2011.

Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Les roses, par P.J. Redouté, avec le texte par Cl. Ant. Thory. Paris, Imprimerie de Firmin Didot, 1817-24. Pierre Joseph Redouté, 1759-1840. Antwerp: Belgium, De Schutter S.A., 1974.

Pierre-Joseph Redouté learned painting from his father, but left home at age 13 to train in Liège.  In the Netherlands he studied the botanical works of Jan van Huysum and Rachel Ruysch, leaning how to illustrate the individual flowers with grace and precision, which was what his later patrons demanded for scientific purposes, rather than elaborate flower-pieces intended purely for aesthetic pleasure. In 1782 he moved to Paris and furthered his knowledge with engraving while painting the flowers in the Royal gardens.  He eventually came to the attention of Empress Josephine Bonaparte and for whom he painted his famous wok, Les Roses.  After her death Redouté fell on hard times and in 1840, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. [Stern, William. Redouté, Pierre-Joseph. Oxford Art Online / Grove Art Online - Biographies. Accessed March 8, 2011. Michigan State University Libraries.]

Michigan State University