Friday, March 31, 2006

Revolution and Invention: 12 Floral Masterworks

Join us in the library for our new exhibit featuring 12 prints from Les Fleurs Dessinées d'Après Nature (flowers drawn from life) by Gerard van Spaendonck. This portfolio of 24 stipple-engraved flower portraits dating back to 1801 is a new acquisition to The Suzette Morton Davidson Special Collections, and will be on display until July 15, 2006.

Les Fleurs Dessinées d'Après Nature was the only publication of Spaendonck, the greatest flower painter and teacher of his time. He completed this work, 24 stipple-engraved plates of flower portraits, during and after the turmoil of the French Revolution. Although hired by Louis XVI, Spaendonck maintained his position as "professor of painting" at the Natural History Museum and Gardens in Paris during both the Reign of Terror (1789-1794) and Napoleon’s rule (1795-1815).

Spaendonck directed three of the finest Parisian artisans to transfer his painted flower images to engraved plates using his choice of the stipple technique. This technique allowed the artist to highlight the finest details of plants, especially flowers, in varying tones of black, gray, and white - more than line engraving and etching was then achieving.

In addition to this extraordinary work, on display are examples of work of several of his students, one of the most widely known being Pierre Joseph Redoute, whose images of roses have been ever popular with collectors of botanical prints.

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