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Watercolour - Canterbury Bells (Campanula medium)
  • Canterbury Bells (Campanula medium)
    Redouté, Pierre Joseph, born 1759 - died 1840
  • Enlarge image

Canterbury Bells (Campanula medium)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Hammersmith (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1787 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Redouté, Pierre Joseph, born 1759 - died 1840 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Wilson and Miss Marjorie Lee

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf DP3

Redouté made this informal study while he was staying with the botanist James Lee (1715-95) at his home in Hammersmith, west London. He gave it to Lee as a gift in return for his hospitality. Most of Redouté's botanical illustrations were made for publication, but not this one. It shows the remarkable technical skill of his mature style. Redouté has exploited the characteristic transparency of the watercolour medium to convey the transparent wings of the dragonfly. He has taken advantage of the smooth, polished surface of the vellum to capture the delicate sheen of the petals.

Redouté was one of the greatest botanical artists of the 18th century. He produced many illustrations for botanical monographs and scientific publications. He also made decorative studies for books that were devoted to the beauty of garden flowers.

Physical description

Portrait format painting of a spray of blue flowers on a plae beige background.

Place of Origin

Hammersmith (probably, painted)


1787 (painted)


Redouté, Pierre Joseph, born 1759 - died 1840 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum

Marks and inscriptions

'P.J. Redouté pinxit 1787'
Signature; date; handwriting; ink


Height: 44.2 cm sheet, Width: 28.2 cm sheet

Object history note

This study was made while the artist was staying with James Lee (1715-1795), the botanist, at his home in Hammersmith, and presented to him in return for his hospitality.

Descriptive line

Watercolour by P.J. Redouté, Canterbury Bells (botanical illustration), 1787

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

'Picturing Plants: An Analytical History of Botanical Illustration' by Gill Saunders (Zwemmer/V&A, 1995), p.11 (illus.)
'Picturing Plants: an analytical history of botanical illustration' by Gill Saunders; KWS Publishers; 2009; second edition; no. 2; page 11 (illus.)
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings, Accessions 1947, London: HMSO, 1950.

Labels and date

Pierre-Joseph Redouté 1759-1840
Canterbury Bells (Campanula medium)

Redouté made this formal study as a gift for the botanist James Lee while staying with him in Hammersmith. Though not intended for publication it is a 'tour de force' of technical and aesthetic skill. In the tradition of northern European flower painting, Redouté includes two insects and by doing so makes a grand claim for the life-likeness of his picture.

Watercolour on vellum
Given by Lady Wilson and Miss Marjorie Lee
V&A: E.91-1947 []

Subjects depicted

Insects; Flowers


Illustration; Gardens & Gardening


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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