The distinction of being the most famous and talented botanical artist of all time must go to Pierre-Joseph Redouté.
As appointed court painter to Empress Josephine and Napoleon, Redouté's days were spent documenting the rare flowers and plants that grew at Malmaison, Josephine's villa outside of Paris. These beautiful studies were translated into an eight volume work entitled Les Liliacées.
Redouté painted and had engraved 486 botanical specimens. The title is misleading as the work if of much broader scope including representations of the lily, amaryllis, iris, orchid and other tubular families.
Redouté's fame lies simply in the fact that not only were his paintings and engravings accurate scientific illustrations, but they were also visually glorious! His technique of stipple engraving (using etched dots) and applying color directly to the plate, duplicated the subtleties found in the original botanical specimen, and was ideally suited to render the subtle gradations of tone found in Redouté's original watercolors. Redouté claimed to be the inventor of this particular method of color-printing, for which he was awarded a medal by Louis XVIII.
Les Liliacées was Redouté's largest and most ambitious work and is generally regarded as his masterpiece. Only 200 copies were issued between 1802 and 1816.