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Stavesacre

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    France (painted)

  • Date:

    ca.1575 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour and bodycolour on paper

  • Museum number:

    AM.3267FF-1856

  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 88a, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

This drawing belongs to an album of 59 botanical watercolours on paper attributed to the Huguenot artist Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues (1533-88). Some of these are double-sided like the present one. Dated around 1575, the present work shows a stavesacre on the recto and lavender on the verso. Although Lemoyne has long been considered as an obscure artist providing designs for simple woodcuts, his botanical watercolours which were rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century have earned him a place in history as one of the most remarkable early botanical painters.

Physical description

A stasacre on the recto: the open flowers are grey-blue paling at the tips, the stamens yellowish, while the half open flower is greenish white touched with blue, the buds pale green; and lavender on the verso: the florets are grey-blue showing the brown bracts between the whorl of florets.

Place of Origin

France (painted)

Date

ca.1575 (painted)

Artist/maker

Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour and bodycolour on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Numbered '54' on recto and '55' on verso, in brown ink, on top right corner
Watermark similar to Briquet 12826

Lugt 2503 on bottom right corner

Dimensions

Height: 24.2 cm estimate, Width: 26.3 cm estimate

Object history note

Purchased in 1856 as part of a sketchbook bought for its 16th-century binding. In 1922, De Morgues's signature was discovered and the significance of the watercolours recognised. Following this, the 34 leaves with watercolours were extracted from the volume to be transferred to the Prints and Drawings department (now Museum nos. A.M.3267a – 3267hh-1856). The binding remained in the library (National Art Library, 3267-1856).

Historical context note

The present drawing belongs to an album of 59 botanical watercolours depicted on 34 sheets of paper and attributed to Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues. The present sheet is double-sided. On the recto is depicted a wild daffodil and a red admiral butterfly whereas on the verso is represented a pear on a twig and a halved pear.

The drawings from this series were acquired in 1856 as one of the first purchases of the V&A, almost by accident, and solely because they were bound up in an extremely fine French late-16th-century brown calf binding. Although Lemoyne has been long considered as an obscure artist providing designs for simple woodcuts, he was recognised at the beginning of the 20th century as one of the most remarkable early botanical painters.

The V&A binding and the inscriptions on the drawings in both French and Latin suggest that the series was probably made in France around 1575. Lemoyne left the Continent to London where he settled shortly before1580. The V&A album can be compared with another album, reputed to have been made around 1585 in England, and now in the British Museum.

Another group of 27 sheets stylistically close and on similar paper to the V&A watercolours appeared on the market in 2004, followed by a bound florilegium with eighty drawings in an 18th-century French mottled calf gilt and lettered ‘anno 1770’ in 2005.(See Sotheby's, New York, 21 January 2004, lots 29-55 and Sotheby's, New York, 26 January 2005, lot 46.) A highly finished group of six gouaches on vellum on blue and gold background were sold from the Korner collection in 1997 (Sotheby's, New York, January 29, 1997, lots 55-60).

The interest in plants for their medicinal properties and religious symbolism was well anchored since the Middle Ages in Western Europe. A great number of manuscripts were beautifully illuminated with flowers and plants, echoing an interest that goes back to the Antiquity. However this impressive album of botanical watercolours shows a renewed curiosity for the flora from both a scientific and an aesthetic point of view.

In this respect, Lemoyne de Morgues’ representations of plants and insects, which show a particular attention to details and a great sense of realism, can be seen as a forerunner of such projects as the Museum Chartaceum (Latin for ‘Paper Museum’), made by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657)who commissioned to minor and major artists a vast collection of drawings recording, among others, natural history subjects (see V&A E.731-1949 to E.735-1949, E.2776-1962 to E.2777-1962, E.426-2009 to E.428-2009, and E.1026-2011 – and also Royal Library, Windsor Castle, and British Museum, London).

Descriptive line

Watercolour, a stavesacre on the recto and lavender on the verso, attributed to Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues, French school, ca. 1575

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Gill Sanders, 100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum.London, 1985, p.46
Paul Hulton, The Work of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, A Huguenot Artist in France, Florida and England, vol. I, London, 1977, p. 162

The following is the full text of the entry:

31. Recto. Stavesacre
Plate 32a

Palmated Larkspur (Stavesacre), Delphinium staphisagria L. The open flowers are grey-blue paling at the tips, the stamens yellowish, while the half open flower is greenish white touched with blue, the buds pale green.

Watercolours and bodycolours; 274 x 185 mm; 10 ¾ x 7 ¼ in.

Numbered 54.

AM.3267FF-1856

LITERATURE: Savage (1923).

Verso. Lavender
Plate 32b

Lavender, Lavandula officinalis Chaix (L. vera DC.). The florets are grey-blue showing the brown bracts between the whorl of florets.

Watercolours and bodycolours.

Numbered 55.

LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923) as ‘L. spica’; Blunt, Botanical illustration, p. 83.

Spencer Savage, ‘The discovery of some of Jacques Le Moyne’s botanical drawings’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXI (1922)
Spencer Savage, ‘Early botanical painters. No. 3. – Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXIII (1923)

Wilfrid Blunt, The art of botanical illustration, London, 1950

Lionel Lambourne, Portraits of Plants: Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (1533- 1588), London (undated)
Gill Saunders, 100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1985, p.46.
Paul Hulton, The Work of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, A Huguenot Artist in France, Florida and England, vol. I, London, 1977, p. 156

The following is the full text of the entry:

2. Recto. Daisy and Painted Lady Butterfly
Plate 19 b

Double Daisy, Bellis perennis L., var. hortensis L. The flowers are pink, deeper towards the yellowish centre. The Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui (L.), seen from beneath. The wings are mottled in brown and white, deeper brown on the forward edges, the body is dark grey.

Watercolours and bodycolours; 274 x 183 mm; 10 ¾ x 7 ⅛ in.

Inscribed above the butterfly, The painted Lady revers’d and numbered 3.

AM.3267B-1856.

LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923).

Verso. Species Rose
Plate 19 c

Rose, Rosa sp. The flowers are pink, paler towards the outer edges, showing yellow stamens.

Watercolours touched with bodycolours.

Numbered 4.

LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923) as ‘Rosa sp.’

Spencer Savage, ‘Early botanical painters. No. 3. – Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXIII (1923)
Lambourne, L., Portraits of Plants, London: V&A, 1984.
FOR A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE SKETCHBOOK, SEE HERE.

Subjects depicted

Lavender (plant); Stavesacre

Categories

Paintings; Drawings; ELISE; Botanical art; Books; Manuscripts

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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