Treasure: European artist source of charming prints

Khristi Zimmeth

Like many collectors, Loretta Gonzalez-Prendes of Shelby Township loves the stories behind things from the past.

The email she wrote to the column gave some background on some items that intrigued her. “I have two P. J. Redoute lithographs that I would like to know more about,” she wrote. “One of the lithographs is titled “Gordonia, Campanule et Benoit jaune (no. 41).” The other lithograph is titled “Tulipe Anglaise et Chrysentamum (No. 54).”

But it was the rest of the information she provided that tugged at her heartstrings – and ultimately tugged at ours.

“I bought the beautifully framed lithographs about 22 years ago” at a resale shop in Warren, she wrote. “The price for the pair was marked down from $12.81 to the purchase price of $8.28. At first I was attracted to the colors of the flowers. But on the back of the each picture was the handwritten inscription that read: ‘Rene, from Bob, 6th wedding anniversary, Feb. 9, 1947.’ The whole idea of these once important and treasured wedding anniversary gifts ending up in a resale shop intrigued me and I wanted to know more about them and about the painter.”

“I have been able to find out that Redoute was a botanist and painter known for his watercolors of flowers. He was born in Belgium in 1739 and referred to as the “Raphael of flowers.” He worked for the French royal court where he served as a tutor to Marie Antoinette.”

Appraiser Brian Thomczek said that her information about the artist was indeed correct. “He was a listed artist, and very well known in Europe, where his prints have been popular for years,” he told her. “Eventually they also became popular in the United States.” In the late 19th century, botanical images and images of birds, insects and other natural objects became the rage; Redoute was among the leading artists of the type.

Unfortunately for Gonzalez-Prendes, her images are considered reproduction prints, and many similar examples were collected and featured in books. “That doesn’t mean they are aren’t nicely done,” he counseled her, adding that her find was still both valuable and appealing, even without the sweet sentiment that added emotional, if not monetary, value.

“These are very nice and people definitely collect things like this,” he told her. “You got a really great deal at that price and the good quality frames add value,” Thomczek said, estimating that her prints dated to the late 19th century, which still makes them official antiques, which are defined anything more than 100 years old.

While a book of original Redoute prints sold for $23,000 in 1998, Thomczek said her pair would unfortunately bring substantially less, about $100 each or $200 for the pair.

“They’re perennially popular subjects and people would be proud to hang them on their wall,” he told her. “I’m sure Bob and Rene would be happy you saved them.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Photos cannot be returned.

About This Item

Item : Redoute flower prints

Owner : Loretta Gonzalez-Prendes, Shelby Township

Appraised by : Brian Thomczek, independent appraiser

Estimated value : $100-$200