Frenchman Raoul Maucherat de Longpré was born in 1843 to an aristocratic, but poor, family of artists. They painted in the floral tradition that was closely tied to the textile design industry of Lyons. De Longpré showed early talent and began painting flowers on fans for a Parisian firm at the age of twelve. He showed at the Paris Salon in 1877 and 1890. While his younger brother Paul, also an accomplished floral painter, immigrated to the United States, de Longpré seems to have remained in France throughout his life. One of his paintings was exhibited in Denver, Colorado in 1883 (Rocky Mountain News, July 27, 1883) which may suggest his presence in America.
De Longpré painted from closely observed scientific studies of flowers that he made, providing his works with exquisite detail. His subject matter was derived from his awareness of the ‘language of flowers’, a coded means of communication popular in the Victorian era. Composing a bouquet of white lilacs would signify ‘youthful innocence’, whereas purple lilacs signified ‘the first emotion of love’. Roses have a multitude of meanings depending on their color and the flowers that they are combined with. De Longpré’s compositions are focused entirely on the blooms rather than how the flowers might be incorporated into a human reality, thus reinforcing his interest in them as allegorical devices.
Works by Raoul de Longpré can be found in various museums and private collections including the Fleischer Museum, Scotsdale, AZ; the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in Rochester, NY; the Brockton Art Museum in Brockton, MA; the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, PA; and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.