In the early 19th century, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the master of botanic illustrations, perfected the art of stiple engraving while producing “Les Roses” for the Empress Josephine. The images in this series are a direct homage to the style and grace of the master.
These roses were all photographed between 1996 and 1998 for the Smith & Hawken books. A makeshift studio was set up in garages or living rooms in rose gardens from Los Angeles to Portland as the rose season progressed northward.
Each day of the shoot 8 to 12 roses were determined to be at their peak and enough picked to be broken up and then reconstructed looking carefully through the camera viewfinder. Roses look to the sky and not the viewer, so on any given stem, even the very best on the best day, will not have every flower, bud, and leaf in perfect condition. While every effort was used to not fabricate the look, it occassionally took as many as 11 parts to assemble the photographs.
Two years after the books were completed Saxon began printing this series as Giclée prints. The original transparencies were scanned, stems were “cut”, and a text line mimicing the style of traditional botanic engravings was added in the digital file. The Giclée prints were mastered by Bob Cornelis of Color Folio in Sebastopol, CA and printed on archival, watercolor paper.