The Royal Treatment: PANCRACE BESSA (FRENCH, 1772-1835)
PEINTRE DES FLEURS, VELINS DU ROI
Pancrace Bessa was among the artists employed by the French court to paint prized flora and fauna. He is primarily known for his botanical watercolors and many published illustrations that showed great facility in representing animals and birds.
Born in Paris in 1772, Pancrace Bessa studied at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle with two court painters: Gerard von Spaendonck and Pierre Joseph Redouté. He is considered one of the most talented painters of his day and was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salons between 1806 and 1831. Through the connections he made at the Muséum, Bessa was appointed as a peintre des fleurs to portray rare plants in painting and worked on the French royal collection of watercolors on vellum, known as the Velins du Roi, from 1823 - 1835. His talent also garnered teaching opportunities, students included the Duchess du Berry, the daughter-in-law to Charles X.
Bessa most well-known works are those prepared publications by the leading French botanists, horticulturists, and agriculturists, portraying new fruits, flowers, and trees from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia. In some instances, he was the sole illustrator, and for others, he collaborated with talented artists such as his teacher Pierre-Joseph Redouté.