Object Image

Redouté’s stag beetle looks like it has just crawled onto this drawing’s animal-skin support, thanks to the artist’s subtle use of shadow and his attentiveness to minute anatomical details. The borders that frame this insect, as well as its placement at the center of the composition, however, suggest its status as a specimen. Best known for his depictions of flowers, Redouté worked for noteworthy figures like France’s Queen Marie Antoinette and, later, Empress Joséphine Bonaparte. His works bear witness to an increasing interest in empiricist knowledge of the natural world that was ushered in during the Enlightenment period, when documentation and categorization of natural-history specimens reached a pinnacle. This drawing is one among more than six thousand watercolors that Redouté created over the course of his career.

Credit: Bequest of Catherine G. Curran, 2008

Watercolor heightened with white on vellum
17.2 x 11.5cm
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019

Where you'll find this

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent collection