Plum Branches Intertwined

green and purple fruit on branch with leaves
Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840)
Plum Branches Intertwined, 1802–4
Watercolor on vellum
12 9/16 x 10 3/8 in. (31.9 x 26.4 cm)
Bequest of Charles A. Ryskamp, 2010
Photo Michael Bodycomb

Redouté's lyrical arrangement of plum branches may have been preparatory for an illustrated volume on Empress Josephine's gardens at Malmaison, although this sheet was never engraved for publication. In delicate washes of blue, green, and gold, the artist portrays the fruits' subtle gradations of tone and conjures the powdery "bloom" coating their skins. Using a visual trope beloved by Dutch and Flemish still-life painters, he adds droplets of water to the golden plum at the forefront, implying its fresh retrieval from the garden.

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