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January 25, 2009

Sherlock, Nancy, Dick And Me

When I began my illustrations for REDOUTE, The Man Who Painted Flowers, there was no Google. Only encyclopedias, libraries and museums. (It wasn't that long ago, but writing this suddenly reminds me of horses and buggies - ;-)

First of all I needed to know what Pierre- Joseph Redoute looked like.

As Empress Josephine's flower painter, Redoute was one of a gathering of distinguished painters serving Napoleon's court including Jacques Louis David, Francois Gerard, Jean Baptiste Isabey, Louis-Leopold Boilly, Theodore Gericault among others.

It dawned on me that even though Napoleon kept them all pretty busy with imperial portraits and heroic battle scenes there had to be a little down time once in a while.
And what distinguished painters might do during slow days is paint each other!
I spread the word to friends and colleagues. Somewhere, in a museum or catalogue was a portrait of Redoute, by one of Napoleon's portraitists, David, Gerard, Boilly, Prud'hon, Isabey.......

Almost instantly, an English friend working in Belgium reported a small portrait, possibly by David, in the Musee des Beaux Artes in Brussels. Thrilling! (Though it turned out to be by Francois Gerard).

Next one, by Louis-Leopold Boilly, showed up in a book on Napoleon.

Recently I discovered the one on the left, attributed this time to Eugene Isabey, on the web at the W. Graham Arader Gallery
Especially charming, as it appears Redoute is thumbing through his book of Lilies.

S. Holmes, N. Drew, D. Tracy and me.

1 comment:

  1. Is the book still in print? You captured his likeness very well.