|Roses, Anemones in a Glass Vase, Pierre-Joseph Redoute|
Copyright, Jim Lane
Petals, ca. 1995, Jim Lane
When it comes to floral paintings, I'm not that crazy about them. I can recall doing only two or three over the past forty-five years. One of them Petals (left) hangs in our bedroom. The others, both small, I've long since sold it. It's not that I don't like flowers. I do, very much. It's just that they tend to lose a lot of the fresh, vibrant appeal when transferred in paint to canvas. Maybe if I sprayed the canvas with rose-scented air freshener...never mind...bad idea. In studying the work of so many floral painters, the problem is, there's such a sameness to them--petals, stems, leaves, maybe a little background context. And no matter what the artist does, how creatively he or she may approach the subject, it's hard to come up with much that hasn't been done a thousand times before. That's the problem I have with the work of the French botanic illustrator, Pierre-Joseph Redoute, and all the more so in that he purposely divorced his beautiful floral specimens from any form of contextual reality. An exception, and one of the very few at that, is his Roses, Anemones in a Glass Vase (above). Still, all we have is an ordinary floral still-life.
|Tulips (detail), Pierre-Joseph Redoute|
Pierre-Joseph Redoute lived in Paris during the turbulent times of the French Revolution with the political, social, and military upheavals which followed. Born in 1759, he lived eighty-one years, until 1840. He painted and published over 2,100 plates comprising some 1,800 floral specimens (below, along with some fruits and nuts thrown in for flavor). It was a long life...a long career. It began with his running away from home at the age of thirteen, determine to make his way as a Paris portrait painter. Kids, don't try this at home (or away from home). Being an artist is a tough life, especially back then, especially while trying to cope with the onset of puberty.
|Lilacs, Pierre-Joseph Redoute|
|Cherries, Pierre Joseph Redoute|
|Iris, Pale, Pierre-Joseph Redoute|
|Cabbage Rose, Pierre-Joseph Redoute|
|Apple, Calville Blanc, Redoute|
|Poppy, Choice Most Beautiful |
Flowers, Paris, Panckoucke, 1827