Painter To The King
Today is the anniversary of the death of the French botanical painter for King Louis the XIV and XV, Claude Aubriet, who died on this day in 1742.
When Aubriet was appointed "Painter to the King" after the death of his master Jean Joubert in 1707, he technically didn't have the right credentials because he didn't belong to the Academy of painting and sculpture. But, the King approved Aubriet's appointment anyway, and he lived at the Royal Garden until he died.
Aubriet was sponsored by the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort to create over a thousand illustrations for his acclaimed book - Elements of Botany. Other botanists, including Sebastien Vaillant and Antoine Jussieu, also hired Aubriet to do their illustrations.
During his time at court, Aubriet painted twenty-four miniatures a year for 35 years resulting in nearly 600 vellums for the royal collection. Today, they are preserved at the Museum national d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris.
What distinguishes Aubriet’s work was his desire to paint all the known species in both the animal and plant kingdoms. Aubriet painted fish and insects and birds and mammals - in addition to plants.
In 1722, Aubriet changed his will. His most prized possession was a cabinet he had inherited from his former master Jean Joubert. Aubriet left the cabinet to his friend, the botanist Bernard Jussieu. The cabinet was described this way:
“In a wood veneer, exquisite paintings of parrots... ornamented the panels ... with their golden border.”
As you might have already suspected, the genus Aubrieta (“Aubreesha”) was named for Claude Aubriet by the French Botanist Michel Adanson. Aubrieta is an ornamental plant, and it grows well in rock gardens. The leaves resemble succulents, and after flowering, a light clip will encourage new shoots.