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Frontispiece, Recueil de plantes

Frontispiece, Recueil de plantes

The engraved frontispiece from Nicolas Robert’s Recueil de plantes gravees par ordre du Roi Louis VXI depicts a meeting of the Academy in the Royal Library at Versailles, with Louis XIV present.

This is the first illustration of the meeting of a learned society, albeit imagined. The floral arrangements that help to frame the group on the left and right appear to have been taken in part or whole from one of Monnoyer’s compositions. Although these are not scientific renderings of flowers, they are included in an image with an overt “natural history” theme. Even their placement is intriguing, as the arrangement on the left clearly alludes to the Jardin des Plantes that can be seen beyond the open windows. The second arrangement on the lower right appears among globes, maps, plans, and scientific instruments. The composition is steeped in a rich intellectual atmosphere that both highlights the King’s abilities and interests and also reflects the current trend in interior decoration.

 
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