Madeleine Françoise Basseporte (1701-80), the botanical illustrator for the king

Convolvulus batatas, painting on vellum, Photo (C) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle

The official painter to the Jardin du roi (the king’s botanical gardens in Paris) from 1741 to 1780.

More on the long, successful career of this exceptional artist from exhibition catalog, Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections (p. 55):

“During her tenure at the Jardin du roi, Basseporte interacted with many scientific and intellectual luminaries of the era. The influential Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus met Basseporte in the 1730s when she was still studying with [Claude] Aubriet. The french naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, kept up a decades-long correspondence with the artist. And the philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau reportedly exclaimed that ‘nature gave plants their existence’ but ‘Mademoiselle Basseporte preserved it for them.'”

Boerhaavia scandens L, painting on vellum, Photo (C) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle
Magnolia, painting on vellum, Photo (C) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle
Common banana plant, painting on vellum, Photo (C) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle

“Basseporte was also called upon to travel to the royal châteaus at Versailles, Compiègne, Fontainebleau, and Bellevue to record the collections of animals and plants that Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour assembled at these properties.

In addition she taught flower painting to the daughters of Louis XV, who maintained life-long interests in both art and botany. She may also have given lessons to other women, including the future académiciennes Marie-Thérèse Vien and Anne Vallayer-Coster.”

She also illustrated animal species.

Tellinides (Tellina) ovalis, painting on vellum, Photo (C) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle
Species of heron in the pond of the Versailles in 1760, painting on vellum, Photo (C) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s