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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Offering of the day: A Delicate Botanical Oil Painting by Jean Louis Prevost

Jean Louis Prevost (c. 1760-1810)
Still-life with a bouquet of flowers and a bird's nest with eggs.
Oil on canvas,
12" x 15 1/2".
Signed and dated in lower left, "J. L. Prevost 1795."

Jean Louis Prevost was a successful and widely renowned flower painter, respected both for his watercolor and oil paintings and for his engraved works.  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 flower 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.

Prevost here demonstrates his mastery of the traditional still-life genre.  The strong composition indicates his aesthetic concerns, while the delicate, detailed and higly accurate depiction of each flower also exemplifies the artist's exceptional rendering skill.  For though not primarily a botanist, all of Prevost's works were based on careful observation of specimens.

This lively and accomplished work presents Prevost's mastery both of decorative design and descriptive rigor.  It is a unique and affecting piece by an artist who occupies an unusual place in the history of botanical art.

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