Introduced to Versailles, Redouté entered the service of Queen Marie-Antoinette. He will be under the Empire an official artist of Empress Joséphine and will provide the artistic training for princess Adelaïde d'Orléans.
Redouté painted on vellum several hundred watercolors showing the flowers of the gardens of Malmaison, Saint-Cloud, Versailles and Sèvres. His botanical accuracy is extreme, without error of proportions and without distortions.
Redouté prepares the engravings associated with his watercolors. To obtain the desired precision of the contrasts the plates are re-inked after each individual impression. The images are finished in watercolor guided by tiny dots engraved in the sheet.
This set of 487 images 51 x 34 cm is printed in 280 copies by Didot jeune and provided in 80 parts between 1802 and 1816. The title, Les Liliacées, is reducing compared to the content which covers all the monocotyledons.
The young duchesse de Berry belonging by her marriage to the Legitimist branch of the Bourbons will become in her turn a protector of Redouté. Before the fall of the regime she owned the original watercolors of the Roses published by Redouté after the completion of the Liliaceae.
On July 11 in London, Christie's sells a copy of Les Liliacées that had belonged to the duchesse de Berry. Bound for the duchesse in eight volumes, this set is estimated £ 350K, lot 281.
In 1985 the original watercolors of the Liliaceae bound in 16 volumes were sold in a single lot by Sotheby's for $ 5.5M including premium. This remarkable result was at that time the tenth highest price recorded in an art auction. Purchased by a bookseller for a syndicate created by him for this operation, they were distributed just after the sale among his share holders, resulting for his benefit in the dismantling that had originally been planned by the auction house.