Aubert Parent carved this extraordinary relief from a single panel of lindenwood. The wood—also known as limewood or basswood and distinguished by its soft, easily worked density and barely visible grain—had been favored by European woodcarvers since the Middle Ages. Parent took full advantage of his material’s inherent properties; by deeply undercutting the relief, he conveyed the illusion of full-round sculpture, and the delicate vertical striations he cut to create the corrugated backdrop reduced the thickness of the panel to an 1/8 inch. Every flower is rendered with absolute fidelity, and the stems of the lilacs, poppies, roses, hollyhocks, hyacinths, and peonies are gathered into a great bouquet tied with a twisted ribbon. Despite his prominence in his day, few of Parent’s panels have survived. However, this one appears exactly as he intended: surrounded by a carved and gilded frame and showcased in its original finely burnished giltwood and ebonized frame and case.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Aubert Parent, French, 1753-1835
  • Bouquet with Lilacs, Poppies, and Hollyhocks
Date ca. 1790
Medium Lindenwood
Dimensions Overall: 18 3/4 × 15 1/2 × 3 1/4 inches (47.6 × 39.4 × 8.3 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Bernard J. Reilly Fund, Katherine Tuck Fund, Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and with funds from Joanne and Richard Brodie
Accession Number 2006.146
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View Era of Revolution S331.2, Level 3 (see map)
private collection (central France);
(Adrian Sassoon, London, England);
2006-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Darr, Alan. P. and Brian Gallagher. "Recent acquisitions (2000-2006) of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Detroit Institute of Arts." The Burlington Magazine 149, no. 1251 (June 2007): p. 453, pl. XV (ill.).