Nicolas Robert

Nicolas Robert

Nicolas Robert (1614–1685) began his career as an illustrator of decorative floral arrangements. Over the course of his career, he took an increasingly scientific approach to botanical observation, frequently including details such as roots, seeds, and leaves.

Robert developed a stronger interest in and knowledge of botany after he was employed to paint the collection of flowers, animals, and birds at Blois by Gaston d’Orléans, the younger brother of Louis XIII and the son of Marie de’ Medici. Robert Morrison (1620–1683), a Scottish botanist and director of the garden, undoubtedly had an influence on Robert’s work as it clearly became more focused on the scientific aspects of the plants. After Gaston’s death, Robert was invited by Louis XIV to continue his work in Paris at the Jardin du Roi and at Versailles.

The patronage that Robert received from wealthy amateur collectors and those at court was a direct result of the burgeoning interest in botanical science, stimulated by the introduction of exotics from both expeditions and new overseas colonies. Contemporary developments in scientific botany helped to provide Robert with an objectivity toward his subject as previously plants had been selected for illustration according to their symbolic, curative, or ornamental value.

 

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