Wreath of Wild Roses

At left, this illustration is the frontispiece to Les Roses, Volume I, by Pierre-Joseph Redouté.


In Antonia Ridge’s biography, The Man Who Painted Roses, she writes that when the 10th installment of Les Roses was finished, Thory, Redouté’s botanist friend who wrote the text for Les Roses, suggested to Redouté that he paint a frontispiece.

In Antonia Ridge’s words;
“A wreath of roses, said Monsieur Thory, encircling that quotation [Ode V by the Greek poet, Anacreon], would add an attractive note of classical erudition to mark their tenth installment. Marie-Marthe [Pierre-Joseph’s wife] tartly said she could well imagine that tipsy young pagan with his wreath of roses askew on his head, playing his lute and capering with his snowy-breasted young virgin before the alter of Bacchus.
But Marie-Marthe promptly forgot this when Pierre-Joseph painted the frontispiece. It was a miracle of joyous innocence, a wreath of wild roses most exquisitely painted. Everyone thought it was delightful and it certainly helped to bring in more subscriptions [to Les Roses].”

Below are two translations of Ode V by Anacreon:


Garland me and I will play the lyre

In your sacred grounds, Dionysus,

And with a deep-breasted girl,

With Rose wreaths
Crowned, I will dance.


Anacreon, Ode V


Another translation:


Crown me then, O Bacchus,
And playing on a lyre before thy altar,

Accompanied by a snowy-breasted young virgin
I will dance, crowned with roses.

Anacreon, Ode V


©2007 A Picture of Roses. All rights reserved.

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