We have just finished learning about the French Revolution in Story of the World 3: Early Modern Times by Susan Wise Bauer.
One of the extra reading suggestions was "The Man who Painted Flowers" by Carolyn Croll.
It looks like a lovely picture book which I would love to purchase at some stage. Carolyn Croll has several of her lovely illustrations on her blog, which is well worth a look at.
I did however come across a very similar sounding book on
trademe. It is called "The Man who Painted Roses, the Story
of Pierre-Joseph Redoute". So I snapped up this book for just $2, thinking it was bound to have some of Redoute's paintings reproduced in it. I was a little disappointed when I received it as there were no pictures, other than on the front cover. What I did discover however, was a wonderful story of Redoute's life.
Redoute was born about 30 years before the French Revolution, into a family of painters in Belgium. His father longed for he and his brothers to grow up to be famous landscape or portrait painters. They were encouraged to leave the family home at the age of 13, and travel the country learning from master painters, earning their bed and board by assisting the master painters and by painting the odd potrait or religious painting for the local people.
Redoute learned much from this experience, but he never really wanted to paint portraits, he love flowers! He was constantly distracted by their beauty and began to sketch every flower he could along the way.
Eventually Redoute married and settled in Paris. Pierre-Joseph and his wife, Marie-Marthe, had two daughters, Josephine and Adelaide. Through the help of his older brother, Antoine-Ferdinand, and the contacts of various well-known French botanists, Redoute went on to be the official painter for Queen Marie-Antoinette, the Empress Josephine (first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte), the Empress Marie-Louise (second wife of Napoleon) and Queen Marie Amelie. If you can keep up with all the Maries, Louises and Josephines in the story, you are doing well!
Redoute published many botanical books on roses, lilies and many other flowers of the world. He lived a full life and died at the age of 81.
I learned more French history in this book than I have ever known!