Monday, September 6, 2010

Château de Compiègne. Redouté Salon des Fleurs

Château de Compiègne. Redouté Salon des Fleurs
Over ten years ago when I was visiting sights connected to French Queen Marie Antoinette The Château de Compiègne. Was one place I discovered. Located in the village of Compiègne in the Oise department in northern France. It is about a two hours train ride from Paris. Even before the château was constructed, Compiègne was the preferred summer residence for French monarchs, primarily for hunting given its proximity to the Compiègne Forest. The first royal residence was built in 1374 for Charles V , and a long procession of successors both visited it and modified it. In 1750, prominent architect

Furniture made for the Château de Compiègne for Marie Antoinette
Ange-Jacques Gabriel proposed a thorough renovation of the château. Work began in 1751 and was finished in 1788 by Gabriel's student Le Dreux de La Châtre. It was into this residence on the 14th May 1770, with construction work all around, that the king welcomed the young archduchess Marie-Antoinette, the daughter of the Empress Maria-Teresa, whose marriage to his grandson the Dauphin and future Louis XVI, had been arranged.

Marie Antoinette at the age of twelve, by Martin van Meytens
Although the The Château de Compiègne was completed on the eve of the French Revolution in a simple expression of pure classicism for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, they did no get to see the finished Château, that had newly completed furniture delivered for them that they would never use. The Château is known for it's 1st Empire style redecorated by Napoleon in the early 19th century after the original furniture was sold in 1795. The result is an example of The French Empire ,(1808-1810), though some traces of the earlier décor survive. Today we are going to focus on the Salon des Fleurs, also known as the Redouté room.

L'Impératrice Marie-Louise veillant sur le sommeil du Roi de Rome, 1811

This room was decorated for Napoleon's second wife Marie-Louise who was the double grandniece of Marie Antoinette. It was used as a smaller and less formal drawing room for the Empress. The main feature of the room is the profusion of garden flowers. The wall decoration was executed by the workshop of Dubois and Redouté in 1809 and 1814. Pierre-Joseph Redouté 1759 1840, was nicknamed "The Raphael of flowers". He was an official court artist of Queen Marie Antoinette. Redouté painted the gardens at the Petite Trianon and he continued painting through the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. While Marie Antoinette was in prison Redouté was summoned to paint for her a cactus that was said to bloom only at midnight. In the ealy 19th century during the patronage of the generous Empress Josephine, Redouté's career flourished painting the flowers of Josephine's Château de Malmaison.

Château de Compiègne. Redouté Salon des Fleurs

Detail of lilies by Pierre-Joseph Redouté added in 1810

lilies by Pierre-Joseph Redouté were added in 1810

Chair by Jacob-Desmalter, is covered in Gobelins flower tapestry

Wall decoration executed by the workshop of Dubois and Redouté

I like to connect story's and find it funny that Redouté gave French Queen Marie Antoinette painting lessons and was appointed one of her Court painters. He would latter give Marie Antoinette's double grandniece Marie Louise art lessons plus decorate rooms for her that once were used by Napoleon's first wife Joséphine de Beauharnais. The Salon des Fleurs wall decoration was executed by the workshop of Dubois and Redouté in 1809 and 1814. Eight paintings of flower compositions, after celebrated studies of lilies by Pierre-Joseph Redouté were added in 1810. The large flower paintings are after Les Liliacees. Redouté’s largest and most ambitious work and is generally regarded as his masterpiece. Only two hundred copies were issued, with an additional eighteen copies printed on large paper, between 1802 and 1816. It was issued in the form of a cahier containing six plates, and costing thirty six francs. The title is misleading as the work is of a much broader scope including representatives of the lily, amaryllis, iris, orchid, and other families. The plates of Les Liliacees and Les Roses were executed by means of stipple engraving (using etched dots), a method ideally suited to render the subtle gradations of tone found in Redouté’s original watercolors. The printing in colors was usually done from a single plate, the various colors being applied by a rag-stump and re-inked before every impression. Redouté claimed to be the inventor of this particular method of color printing, for which he was awarded the medal of Louis XVIII.

The furniture, all by Jacob-Desmalter, is covered in Gobelins flower tapestry. Theses chairs were coped in 1902 for the Blue room at the White house. I'm sure Marie Louise was happy in her newly decorated flower Salon. Top artist, architects and designers worked on the room making it a masterpiece of late Napoleon 1st Empire style. The next time you are in France go and see the Salon des Fleurs at the Château de Compiègne.

My Redouté early 19th century

My brush with Redouté. I have always been a big admirer of his work. Buying note cards with his beautiful flowers on them to send to faraway friends. After moving to Mobile 7 months ago I attended a monthly estate sale on the last day. It was 60% off day. I bought Old Paris porcelain, 18th century Sheffield plate among other things. I passed up a Redouté print of green plums in a gilt and maple frame. It was 60% off of five dollars. A few months latter also on 60% off day I noticed the Redouté was still at the sale. I decided to get it this time to add with my 18th & early 19th century hand colored fruit engravings in my kitchen even though it was a 20th century copy it was very well done. One day in the kichen I noticed the paper of print was a little cramped. I looked closer and noticed that the hand colored stone engraving could be a original Redouté from the early 19th century. Most copy's from the 20th century are on heavy poster paper as compared to the thin rag paper used in the early 19th century. After close examination I concluded that the engraving was not a 20th c print of Redoutés work, but I had bought a hand colored original for two dollars and twenty five cents worth several hundred dollers!

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