Spring comes late to New England, and after days of snow, I’m ready for flowers. The ones illustrated here are by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). He was a court painter to Marie Antoinette as well as the Empress Josephine. After the latter fell out of favor, he got friendly with the Bourbons. It’s no small feat to survive those sorts of political upheavals. One must be extremely charming or extremely talented. It’s clear he was talented, and I’m guessing he was charming, too. He’s one in a long line of amazing artists from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Jane Austen’s World offers a wonderful appreciation of Redouté. If you scroll down the post, you’ll see his family in an entry from the 1889 Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. At some online sites you’ll find Pierre confused with his brother Henri-Joseph, one of the naturalists on Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt. The tale of the scientists and artists who created the Description de l’Egypte is a different, far more harrowing story—but with beautiful pictures—which I’ll get to one of these days.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.