P.J.Redoute (1759 - 1840)
Charles Louis L Heritier de Brutelle (1746-1800) Charles Louis L’Heritier de Brutelle, botanist and magistrate of France whose family held considerable wealth derived from commerce, and belonged to the upper stratum of court society. L’Heritier’s first botanical publication was also his most important, but it was never finished. As one biographer put it, ” …it was doomed to get stuck in the French revolution. “Stirpes novae aut minus cognitae”, was intended to be a work of two volumes with at least 120 plates, but only six fascimiles were published-in the years 1785-1791 with eighty-four plates and accompanying descriptive texts. Many of the plants described were new plants from living specimens. The author himself was too busy with official duties to engage in active plant collecting, but he employed a team of young men to do the work for him. He also paid the full costs of his publications from his own resources. Possibly the most notable feature of the Stirpes novae are the illustrations of Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840), the highly renowned artist who was actually “discovered” by L’Heritier around 1784. The two became close friends and Redoute was employed to produce the plates. The author instructed him in the techniques of dissection and the details of plant anatomy and permitted the artist to use his extensive collection of illustrated botanical works. Stirpes novae was Redoute’s first botanical publication, and the artist credited his mentor with leading him to a new career in which he could develop his talents. The very rare deluxe hand-coloured issue with the plates produced under Redoute’s supervision and coloured in his studio. The number of coloured copies issued is not known, Stafleu and Cowan note that ‘Some copies have coloured plates’, and only the de Belder copy is listed as having sold at auction in the past twenty five years.
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