Pierre Jean François Turpin
and Pierre Antoine Poiteau were two friends who were contemporaries
Pierre Turpin (1775-1840), who has
been hailed as possibly the finest French natural botanical artist
of his period, came from humble beginnings. He was the son of
a poor artisan and learned the elements of drawing at the art
school at Vire before enlisting in the batallion du Calvados
at the age of fourteen.
Pierre Poiteau (1766-1854) was a self-taught
botanist and artist who spent his early career working as a gardener
at the Jardin des Plantes where he made enough of an impression
to be chosen to be sent to set up a botanic garden at Bergerac.
This accomplished, he was next sent as a plant collector to Santo
Domingo by the Jardin, where fate stepped in as he met and became
friends with Turpin, who was stationed there with the French
The friendship developed into an artistic
collaboration which provided illustrations for some of the most
elaborate botanical publications of the period including several
of the botanical volumes depicting the discoveries made by Friedrich
Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland in the course
of their exploration of Central and South America from 1799 to
The two artists also worked both independently
and with other collaborators.
It is considered by many to be the
most beautiful work on fruit ever produced.