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Plate 74, Pitcairnie a large feuille (Bracteose Pitcairnea)
Paris 1816 - This exquisite, hand colored stipple engraving, “Plate 74, Pitcairnie a large feuille” measures 20.5” x 13.75” and is in excellent condition. This dynamic flower, commonly called the Bracteose Pitcairnea, is from the genus Pitcairnea, named for Dr. William Pitcairn an English physician and gardener. Naturalistically depicted, the flower is colored with a green stem and long thin leaves, with deep pink tubular flowers, growing in an upward, spiked direction. Shading and highlighting of the flowers adds dimension to this engraving and showing some of the flowers blooming gives the viewer an idea of how beautiful the flower is in full bloom. Also illustrated on this engraving are records of the anatomical features of this species including the bulb and flowers, so that the flower could be identified with precision and cultivated to perfection. In each illustration, the flowers are classical "portraits" which lack backgrounds or settings. The regal simplicity of the compositions allows the viewer to focus without distraction on the beauty and delicate complexity of the plants themselves. Les Liliacées was Redouté’s largest and most ambitious work and is generally considered his masterpiece, arguably rivaled only by Les Roses. Produced under the patronage of the Empress Josephine, for whom Redouté worked as botanical artist at her estate at Malmaison, these pristine examples represent landmark works in the field of flower illustration. The title Les Liliacées is misleading, as the work was of a much broader scope, including representatives of the lily, amaryllis, iris, orchid, and other families. The plates were executed by means of stipple engraving, a method that the artist himself perfected when he was unsatisfied with the effects garnered by traditional copper-plate engraving. As Redouté shrewdly observed, the delicacy and subtle elegance of his compositions could only be captured using a printing method equally fine. The luminosity of stipple engraving is particularly suited to the reproduction of botanical detail. The medium involved engraving a copper plate with a dense grid of dots that could be modulated to convey delicate gradations of color. Because the ink rested on the paper in miniscule dots, it did not obscure the "light" of the paper beneath the color. After this complicated printing process was complete, the prints were finished by hand in watercolor, so as to conform to the exquisite models Redouté provided.
      [Bookseller: Arader Galleries San Francisco]
Last Found On: 2014-10-29           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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