Chinoiserie Botanical Prints from Collection Précieuse et Enluminée des Fleurs
Pierre Joseph Buchoz, Paris: 1776-79

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Detail of Buchoz plate Detail of Buchoz plate Detail of Buchoz plate
Pierre Joseph Buchoz (1731-1807) (editor)
Chinoiserie Botanical Prints
from Collection Précieuse et Enluminée des fleurs les plus Belles et les plus Curieuses, qui se cultivent tant dans les jardins de la Chine que dans ceux de l'Europe
[Precious and Illuminated Collection of the Most Beautiful and the Most Peculiar Flowers Cultivated in the Gardens of China and in Those of Europe]
Paris, Lacombe: 1776-79
Hand-colored engravings
8.5 x 12.5 inches, plate mark
11 x 18 inches, overall
$950 to $1,250 each

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A series of prints of unusual and beautiful flowers cultivated in gardens in China and Europe in the 18th century. They are from what is often considered the most innovative and decorative work by the prolific French author Pierre Joseph Buchoz. The composition and style of the works is unusual in the incorporation of numerous stylistic elements of Chinese art. The background landscapes and the inclusion of butterflies, insects and birds in particular often suggest the Chinese influence and some of the prints even have captions in Chinese characters below the yellow wash lined border. As such, this was the first European scientific botanical work to consistently incorporate the so called “Chinoiserie” style that became particularly in vogue during the Louis XV rococo period of the third quarter of the 18th century. Moreover, as stated by art historian Michael Sullivan, these engravings are "remarkable from the technical point of view" for the way in which "the engraver has not merely transmitted the line…but has managed to suggest, with the burin, the tone of Chinese watercolour. Only when we look carefully at these pictures do we realize that they are engraved and not drawn with the brush.”

Pierre Joseph Buchoz (also spelled Buc'hoz), was a French physician and naturalist as well as an extremely prolific author of natural history books in the latter half of the 18th century, with a particular emphasis on copiously illustrated sets of botanicals. Born in Metz, he served at various times as physician to the King of Poland, the brother of the King of France, and the Duke of Artois. Buchoz was a member of academies in France and Europe and his monumental Histoire Universelle du Règne Végétal ([1774-]1775-1780) — with 1,200 botanical engravings — earned the approval of the Academy of Science. Some of the plates in his works were apparently derived from those in works by others (such as de Sève) and Buchoz also managed to be so prolific because he often adapted text and material between and among his own works. Nonetheless, the overall quality of his prints is comparable to the best European and English natural history works of the same period in their great attention to composition and scientific detail, and in the quality of the engraving and coloring. Indeed, Buchoz also had the distinction of producing the first European florilegium in which a large number of the images were of flowers grown in Chinese gardens, and which widely incorporated the so called “Chinoiserie” style, in Collection Précieuse et Enluminée des Fleurs les Plus Belles et les Plus Curieuses (1776-79).

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear.

References:

Blunt, Wilfred, rev. by Stearn, William T. The Art of Botanical Illustration. Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Antique Collectors Club, 1994. pp. 175, 178-9.

Dunthorne, Gordon. Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. Their History, Makers and Uses, with a Catalogue Raisonne of the Works in Which They are Found. Washington, D.C.: Published by the Author, 1938. 60.

Nissen, Claus. Die Botanische Buchillustration: ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. Stuttgart:1951-66. 282.

Pritzel, Georg August. Thesaurus Literaturae Botanicae Omnium Gentium. Milan: 1950. 1326

Sullivan, Michael. The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989. p. 104. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=PMFwC1gP0BkC&pg=PA104 (10 November 2014).

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