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June 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Josephine

June 23, birthday of Josephine de Beauharnais.
Born in Martinique in 1763. First wife of Napoleon
Bonaparte. Empress of France. Famous for
the flowers, especially roses, she grew at Malmaison,
her home near Paris and her collaboration with the
famous botanical artist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

Redouté had survived the French Revolution, despite
having painted flowers for Marie Antoinette who
considered him a servant.
To Josephine, Redouté was a special friend.
For the Empress, Redouté produced his exquisite
books of her flowers; Les Lilacees (The Lilies)
and Les Roses.

Before starting my illustrations for REDOUTÉ,
The Man Who Painted Flowers, I traveled
to Belgium, France and England to see
for myself the places Redouté knew. To
illustrate this true story, I had to know what
places, people and things from that time looked
Not many roses in October, but I could imagine

Josephine's rose garden, where she and Redouté
collaborated, is still at Malmaison.

Flowers, particularly roses decorate Josephine's
carpets, chairs and porcelain dishes as well.
She wore flowers in her hair, on her costume or
a bouquet was near by in every portrait.
Flowers were her passion.
Josephine corresponded and exchanged specimens
with the great botanical figures of her day, including
John Bartram of Philadelphia, considered the father
of American Botany.

available at

Redouté did this one!


  1. I've always loved his flowers - how cool you did a book on him.

    Yes, moving is hard - I imagine especially so for a child. I've moved a ton as an adult, but only once as a child, and that was basically across town. I really feel for my young daughter.

  2. Awww, he's adorable!

  3. This is a marvelous post! I am reminded that I wanted to order this book from you. I will follow up with an e-mail again.