Daffodils and a Red Admiral Butterfly thumbnail 1
Daffodils and a Red Admiral Butterfly thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H , Case WD, Shelf 232

Daffodils and a Red Admiral Butterfly

Watercolour
ca. 1575 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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, like the present one, are double sided. Dated around 1575, the present work shows a wild daffodil and a red admiral butterfly on the recto, and a pear on a twig and a halved pear on the verso. Although Lemoyne has been long known 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour and bodycolours
Brief Description
Watercolour, A wild daffodil and red admiral butterfly on the verso, with a sweet violet and Red Admiral butterfly on the recto, attributed to Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues, French school, ca. 1575
Physical Description
Two sided sheet. Botanical illustration of sweet violet and Red Adminral butterfly on recto and wild daffodil and red admiral butterfly on verso.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 24.2cm
  • Estimate width: 26.3cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'the admirable Butterfly' (top right)
  • 'demorgues' (Signature; lower centre)
Object history
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
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).

Subjects depicted
Summary
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, like the present one, are double sided. Dated around 1575, the present work shows a wild daffodil and a red admiral butterfly on the recto, and a pear on a twig and a halved pear on the verso. Although Lemoyne has been long known 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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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, 1977, p. 155. The following is the full text of the entry: 1. Recto. Daffodil and Red Admiral Butterfly Plate 18 Wild Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus L. The perigon lobes are pale yellowish white on the inside, greenish yellow on the outside, the crown and stamens varying from greenish yellow to brown, the sepals brownish grey. Red Admiral Butterfly, Vanessa atalanta (L.), seen from above. The fore wings are black with deep red bar and white markings nearer the tip, the rear wings black, edged with a lighter red band enclosing black spots, the body is blue striped with black. Watercolours and bodycolours; 274 x 188 mm; 10 ¾ x 7 ⅜ in. Inscribed at the foot, demorogues or demorgues and above the butterfly, the admirable Butterfly and numbered I. AM.3267A-1856. LITERATURE: Savage (1923). The inscription, though not certainly a signature, could be one. Verso. Sweet Violet and Red Admiral Butterfly Plate 19a Sweet Violet, Viola odorata L. The flowers are generally pale mauvish blue, the calyces yellowish green. Red Admiral Butterfly, Vanessa atalanta (L.), seen from beneath. The fore wings are patterned from the base to the tip with bars of bright red, black and brown and spotted with white, the rear wings are generally mottled brown, the body and legs are brown. Watercolours and bodycolours. Inscribed above the butterfly, The inside of the admirable and numbered 2. LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923). An outstandingly formal drawing in composition and treatment and clearly not drawn from nature. It must in fact have been taken from an earlier model and repeats precisely the form of the plant in a French illuminated manuscript (B.L., Add. MS. 35214, f. 50 r.) which, according to Miss Janet Backhouse, cannot be dated later than 1520. No doubt there was a common source from which Le Moyne’s and the earlier illumination were derived. There is a similarity of treatment of the violent in Bourdichon’s Hours of Anne of Brittany, f. 121 <i>r</i>., in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (MS. Lat. 9474).
  • 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)
  • 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.’
  • Lambourne, L., Portraits of Plants, London: V&A, 1984.
  • FOR A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE SKETCHBOOK, SEE HERE.
Collection
Accession Number
AM.3267A-1856

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record createdMarch 3, 2000
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