Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759–1840), the most celebrated of all flower painters and illustrators, numbered among his patrons five royal ladies of France, including Marie Antoinette and the Empress Josephine.
'Les Roses' is Redouté's most famous work. The Chatsworth copy juxtaposes two separate impressions of each of the 169 plates: one printed in colour and finished by hand, the other printed uncoloured on brown paper. The technique perfected by Redouté and his team of engravers was to print the illustrations in colour from stipple-engraved plates, working from the original watercolour paintings he made on vellum.
Stipple-engraving favoured extremely delicate gradations of tone, rendered by dots rather than lines or cross-hatching. All the main colours were meticulously dabbed onto a single plate before each impression was taken. The resulting colour print was then finished off by hand, usually by Redouté himself.
'Les Roses' was acquired for the Library at Chatsworth by Andrew Robert Buxton Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, and bears his armorial bookplate.