Robert & Monnoyer: French Botanical Artists of the 17th Century

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Nicolas Robert (1614-1685) and Jean Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699) were the leading proponents of two parallel styles of botanical illustration that developed in France during the second half of the 17th century. Nicolas Robert’s work, particularly in later publications, focused on the scientific aspects of the plant. Monnoyer, on the other hand, was one of the earliest practitioners of the decorative tradition in French flower painting.

Robert’s later work for the Academie Royale des Sciences was rooted in scientific study while Monnoyer’s style was generally far more decorative and flamboyant as exemplified in his dramatic flower arrangements, rendered with botanical accuracy. While the work of both men required close observation of the natural world, their styles contrast in design, composition, and intent.  This exhibit endeavors to present a representative overview of the work of both men and the milieu in which they worked.

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Basket of flowers

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Decorative images like this one, of flowers in a basket, seem to have informed Nicolas Robert's frontispiece to Recueil de plantes gravées par ordre…

Arrangements in Glass Vases

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The two prints - on one uncut sheet - share a compositional type: a glass vase with a small but full arrangement of flowers placed on a ledge where it…

Basket of flowers

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The basket of flowers reinforces the decorative trend in book illustration prevalent at the time.  See also the plentiful fountains of flowers…