Pair of prints of floral bouquets by the French botanical artist Elisa Honorine Champin. Presented in ribbon-tied bouquets, they are decorative in their arrangements of vividly-colored flowers. At the same time, they accurately portray the plants from a scientific perspective, achieved by skillful shading and the naturalistic, informal positioning of the flowers.
Elisa-Honorine Champin was a watercolorist and lithographer who painted mainly flowers and fruit. Born in Paris, she studied under Mlle. Riché and exhibited at the Salon under her maiden name, Pitet, from 1833 to 1836. After she wed the French painter Jean-Jacques Champin (1796-1860) in 1837, she began exhibiting under her married name. She contributed botanical works to Le Jardin Potager [The Vegetable Garden] (1850-1884) a series of vegetable posters printed by Lemercier as advertisements for the Parisian firm Vilmorin-Andrieux, a leading wholesaler of seeds.
Lemercier & Cie. was a prolific lithographer of the 19th century, active from at least 1850 to 1884. Among their well-known works were the botanical series of vegetable posters, Le Jardin Potager [The Vegetable Garden] (1850-1884), by Elisa-Honorine Champin and others, for the Parisian firm Vilmorin-Andrieux, a leading wholesaler of seeds.
Ernest Gambart (1814-1902) was a London publisher and dealer, born in Belgium, who became a British citizen in 1846. He learned the trade in his father's business, which included a printing, binding and bookselling business, and a reading-room. Around 1833, he established his own print and papermaking business in Paris, and went to England in 1840 as a representative of Goupil & Co., the leading French publisher of fine art reproductions. By 1842, he was a partner in the print importing business Gambart and Junin. Two years later, he launched what became one of the leading print publishers of the period, and produced engravings after the leading British Victorian artists. He frequently collaborated with Goupil & Co., which by 1848 had branches in both Paris and New York. At the end of the 1840s, he expanded into dealing the works of British, French and Dutch artists, opening a London exhibition space which became known as the French Gallery. He became friends with leading patrons and critics of the day, including John Ruskin and F.G. Stephens. He also maintained close relationships with artists such as Rosa Bonheur and Alma-Tadema, both of whom he introduced to British audiences. Gambart showed prominent British artists of the day, including J.M.W. Turner, David Roberts, Landseer, Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown. He retired a wealthy man in 1870 and served the rest of his life as the Spanish Consul-General in Nice. His nephew Léon Lefèvre took over the business, which became Pilgeram & Lefèvre and continues today as the Lefevre Gallery. Gambart received many honors over his lifetime, including Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1898.
Botanical bouquet compositions of varieties of flowers derive from a tradition that begins with Dutch Old Master still life pictures – for a brief overview see our About Botanicals page.
Full publication information: Lemercier, Rue de Seine 57, Paris; H. Gache, rue de la Victoire, 58, Paris; Gambart, Junin & Co., 25 Berners Street, Oxford Street.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. Some foxing in margins, few short tears in margins restored, all matted out.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 2, p. 425.
Dao, Annie and Miller, Lee Norman. "Botanical sheet—The vegetable garden." Agropolis Museum. 1996-2005. http://museum.agropolis.fr/english/pages/expos/aliments/fruits_legumes/images/planche.htm (12 October 2005).
Goodall, Richard. "Ernest Gambart." The Goodall Family of Artists. 7 September 2005. http://www.goodallartists.ca/ernest.htm (11 November 2005).