What is ‘Les Roses’?

Les Roses by Pierre Joseph Redouté

Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s Les Roses contains perhaps his most celebrated images, which the artist issued while under the patronage of the Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon.

Portraits of roses

The present selection comprises the three images that are often considered the most magnificent roses that Redouté ever painted and engraved. Certain common themes run through them. In each, 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. 

Perhaps better than any other engravings that the artist ever made, these images demonstrate the flawless and pristine French style of botanical art that Redouté pioneered and brought to a pinnacle of quality. These magnificent engravings demonstrate the full mastery of his abilities, as the forms of the roses are set off dramatically by Redouté’s masterful and rich modulations of tone and hue. 

‘Les Roses’ was published in 3 volumes between 1817 and 1824 and the 170 illustrations depict mostly flowers from the Malmaison estate of Empress Josephine. The deluxe original editions were very limited in numbers and were financially unsuccessful. A later octavo version proved popular but only about 300 copies were ever printed. A single original print may fetch up to $18,000.

Many of the original watercolour paintings by Redouté (which he sold to reduce debt) were lost in the fire at Tuileries Palace in 1871. Our facsimiles are from the deluxe originals.

Published in 3 volumes with 170 illustrations

‘Les Roses’ was published in 3 volumes between 1817 and 1824 and the 170 illustrations depict mostly flowers from the Malmaison estate of Empress Josephine. The deluxe original editions were very limited in numbers and were financially unsuccessful. A later octavo version proved popular but only about 300 copies were ever printed. A single original print may fetch up to $18,000.

Many of the original watercolour paintings by Redouté (which he sold to reduce debt) were lost in the fire at Tuileries Palace in 1871. Our facsimiles are from the deluxe originals.

Teylers Museum

Taken from the original illustrations held in the libraries of Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the Heritage Prints collection contains 100 color plates from Les Roses.