Fluidly rendered and subtly colored study of a pineapple plant from Prévost’s highly regarded Collection des Fleurs et des Fruits, one of the earliest examples of stipple engraved color-printed botanical illustration. This series of prints was intended as source material for designers of porcelain and fabric and issued in 12 collections (cahiers) of four plates each. Many plates showed bouquets of flowers, and others were still life paintings of fruit. The quality of the color printing places these works among the best produced during the golden age of French botanical art in the early 19th century.
Jean-Louis Prévost was a painter of landscapes and flowers; and frequently worked in watercolor. Born in Nointel, France, he was a student of Bachelier and a member of a circle of painters associated with the great botanical artist Gerrit van Spaendonck. He was a member of the Academy of Saint-Luc, exhibiting paintings of flowers and fruits there from 1791 to 1810, and he also exhibited at the Academie Royale. His works are in the collection of a number of French museums. His best known work is the Collection des Fleurs et des Fruits. A series of Cahiers de Fleurs dessineés d’aprés Nature after Prévost and engraved by A. Legrand was issued in the first quarter of the 19th Century. Prints based on paintings by Prévost were separately issued as well, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, some bound in composite sets of prints by various makers.
An original Prévost botanical watercolor, and three Prévost botanical prints are in the collection of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and are illustrated and described in a book of the collection. According to authors Brindle and White, Prévost's still life images (specifically flowers and fruit in baskets in the Hunt collection) "reflect a characteristically French trend away from Baroque extravagance and toward casual informality."
The hand-coloring for this print is credited to Ruotte; this is probably Louis Charles Ruotte the elder, but it could have been his son. Louis Charles Ruotte the elder (1754-1806) was an engraver of religious subjects, genre scenes and portraits. He exhibited at the Salon four times from 1793 to 1804. His son, also named Louis Charles Ruotte (b.c. 1785), was an engraver as well. He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at age 11 and is known to have exhibited at the Salon of 1812.
Full publisher information: Vilquin, grande cour du Palais du Tribunat, No. 20, Paris.
Condition: Generally very good, with usual light toning and wear. Slightly browned at some edges. Cut close to, or within platemark, as issued. Disbound edge left.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 5, p. 484 (Legrand); Vol. 7, p. 22 (Prévost).
Brindle, John V. and White, James J. Flora Portrayed. Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 1985. p. 48.
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. p. 229.
McKee, George D. “The Image of France.” ARTFL Project. August 2002. http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/ARTFL/projects/mckee/ (4 May 2005).
Nissen, Claus. Die Botanische Buchillustration: ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. Stuttgart:1951-66. 1568.
Pritzel, Georg August. Thesaurus Literaturae Botanicae Omnium Gentium. Milan: 1950. 7332.
Sitwell, Sacheverell. Great Flower Books, 1700-1900. New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990. p. 127.
Stafleu, Frans A. and Richard S.Cowan. Taxonomic Literature. Utrecht: 1967. 2nd ed., Utrecht: 1976-1988. TL2 8319.