|European Watercolors — Comtesse D`Aubigny D`Afoy - A Bouquet of Peonies and Tulips|
|Comtesse D`Aubigny D`Afoy - A Bouquet of Peonies and Tulips
Medium: Watercolor over black chalk on paper prepared white
Dimensions: 15 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
Signed lower right: Ctesse d’Aubigny d’Afoy and dated: Mai 1835.
Throughout the centuries flower painting has been seen as a respectable and ladylike pastime for woman. In John June’s 1756 treatise, The Delights of Flower Painting, the author noted “the Benefit of this early Amusement will be found by filling up those tedious Hours, that would otherwise lay heavy on the Hands of many, and especially the Fair-sex…” June continued by stating, “What more charming Pastime can be found for that Sex, formed to delight and charm; and that, like blooming Flowers, present new Beauties and fresh scenes of Delight, than representing, in the gayest Part of Nature, an Image of their Lovely selves.”
Thus, it was that the Comtesse D’Aubigny D’Afoy was inspired to create A Bouquet of Peonies and Tulips. She no doubt attended the popular classes in flower study that were created in some of France’s fine art schools during the nineteenth century and which were most often attended by female painters. At the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, Jacques Barraband, better known for his bird drawings, was appointed to teach such a class and upon his death in 1809 he was replaced by Jean-Francois Bony, a flower painter and draughtsman for a silk factory.
However, the Countess’s work reveals the influence of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, in the choice of color palette and arrangement of her bouquet. Redouté is arguably the most famous of late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century French botanical watercolor artists. He was appointed draughtsman to Queen Marie-Antoinette’s Cabinet in 1786 and after the fall of the Crown kept a Studio at the Louvre between 1798 and 1805, and at the Hôtel d’Angiviller from 1805 to 1807. From 1807, he is also known to have taken a country studio at Fleury-sous-Meudon and moved his town studio to the Hôtel Mirabeau. His greatest honor came in 1822 when a decree dated 24 July, appointed him as the successor to the last peintre du Roi, van Spaendonck. Throughout this time he taught flower painting to mostly female students. While official records do not seem to include the name of the Comtesse D’Aubigny D’Afoy among Redoute’s pupils his influence is unmistakable.