An exquisite original stipple engraving from Pierre Joseph Redoute’s finest achievement: LES LILIACEES. This is Plate 416, the Veratrum nigrum (Veratre noir).
Also called black false hellebore is a widespread Eurasian species of perennial flower of the family Melanthiaceae. Despite its common name, V. nigrum is not closely related to the true hellebores, nor does it resemble them, though like Helleborus foetidus it has an unpleasant smell.
The plant was widely known even in ancient times. For example, Lucretius (ca. 99 BCE – ca. 55 BCE) and Pliny the Elder (23 AD – August 25, 79) both knew of its medicinal emetic as well as deadly toxic properties.
Only 220 sets of Les Liliacees were produced!! Published in Paris, c. 1802-16.
Redoute, with the immense financial backing of Empress Josephine, produced this masterpiece - “a work that is unsurpassed in the history of botanical illustration. The time-consuming processes of stipple and line engraving, printing in colors and finishing by hand were painstakingly applied by a team of eighteen engravers. No expense was spared in ensuring the quality” (Sotheby's auction 11-10-85).
Image size is approximately 20 x 13 1/2 inches.