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Redoute's Cacti and Succulent Art

Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840) was a renowned botanical artist. He is well known for his watercolors of cacti and succulents. He was considered the best botanical artist of the time.

Born into a family of artists, he illustrated around 50 botanical books, a number of which feature cacti and succulents.

When Redoute moved to Paris, he initially earned a living as a stage designer. He pursued his interest in painting flowers during his spare time for Jardin du Roi, a natural history museum.

Redoute did the paintings and engravings for a book on succulent plants. This title was called “Plantarum historia succulentarum” (Succulent Plants). This was released in installments between 1799-1832. The text was by A.-P. de Candolle.

Redoute began working for Empress Josephine in 1798-99. He received an annual salary from her, and did paintings for all of her books. The first one had 120 watercolors by Redoute and was published in 1803-1805. This was called “Jardin de Malmaison.” Etienne-Pierre Vententat, Josephine’s botanist, did the text. Following Vententat’s death, Aime Bonpland took over writing the books and a new title with art by Redoute was released. This title was called “Description de plantes rares cultivees a Malmaison et a Navarre.” Both of these titles included watercolors of cacti and succulents by Redoute.

Redoute also illustrated another book that features a number of succulents. “The Lilies” was released in eight volumes from 1802-1816 with
text by Petra-Andreae Hinz et al. This title featured lilies and many other
plants that were cultivated in Paris at that time.

The watercolors in “The Lilies” included a number of succulents. One of these was the beautiful yucca (Yucca gloriosa). This painting showed the entire plant in bloom. There was also a separate plate of the flowering stalk.

Redoute also did a watercolor of the yucca-leaved agave. The entire flower stalk was too tall to fit on one plate. So it appears alongside the plant. There is also a separate plate of the flowering stalk showing individual sketches of the flower parts.

Redoute also did a watercolor of the African bowstring hemp. This shows the entire plant with the flower stalk as well as individual sketches of the blooms.

The lily book also featured a painting of the giant agave, which is also called the giant fourcroya. This depicted the entire plant in bloom as well as a separate drawings of the flower stalk on the same plate.

Redoute also did a water color of the Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa). One plate shows the entire plant in bloom. Another depicts a closeup of the flowering stems. This also shows separate sketches of an individual leaf, a flower bud, and an individual bloom.

The lily book also featured aloe yucca. This depicts the entire plant in bloom. There is also a separate water color showing close-ups of the flower stalk.

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