Prevost, Jean Louis


Jean Louis Prevost (1760-1810)
From Des Fleurs et des Fruits, Peints d'apres Nature (Collection of Flowers and Fruits, Painted after Nature)
Paris: 1804-06
Hand-colored stipple engravings
13” x 20”, 20” x 27” framed
$8,500 each

Jean Louis Prevost was a successful and widely renowned flower painter, respected both for his watercolor and engraved works. A pupil of the artist Jean Jacques Bachelier (1724-1806) in Paris, he became a member of the Academie de Saint Luc and presented numerous still-lives at the Salons, the last recorded entry being 1810. His paintings were consistently exhibited in the Paris Salon, and his original watercolors served as models for a series of exquisite color plate botanical books. His Collection des Fleurs et des Fruits is
one of the greatest French botanical books of the early 19th century.

Unlike Redoute, his great contemporary, Prevost’s intention with his works was not primarily scientific. His great Collection... was intended as a reference work for china and fabric pattern designers. The strong composition indicates his aesthetic concerns, while the delicate, detailed and highly accurate depiction of each fruit also exemplifies the artist’s exceptional rendering skill.

The luminosity of stipple engraving is particularly suited to the reproduction of botanical detail. It is essentially a technique of etching a copper plate with a dense grid of dots that can be modulated to convey delicate gradations of color and tone. The plates were painted with watercolor before each impression, creating a rich and subtle color quality that is deeply pressed into the paper. The most delicate highlights and details are then added by hand to finish each print according to the original watercolor that Prevost provided. This complex and delicate printing process combines the technical virtuosity and aesthetic sensitivity that characterizes this great age of French botanical works.