Pierre Vallet (1575 – 1642) was an embroider to the King (Henri IV and Louis XIII). He was also an engraver and published many works. He was born around 1575 in Orleans, France and he may have learned his art in Orleans before moving to Paris. Eugene Griselle in Supplement a la Maison du roi Louis XIII indicates that two men named Pierre Vallet were embroiderers to the King and were possibly father and son. One of these men went by Le Jeune (the young). The date of Vallet’s death is unknown and his final work may have been published after his death.
Although his drawings may seem a bit unsophisticated, he was part of the movement to establish botany for decorative arts and sciences in France, along what can be viewed as the founders of botany in France: Jean Robin, Jacques Dalechamps (born in Bayeux), Pierre Richer de Belleval and Guy de la Brosse.
His most famous work was Jardin du roy tres chrestien which was published in 1608 with a second edition published in 1623 and a third edition, titled Hortus regius, published in 1650. The frontispiece includes an image of Mathieu Lobel (M.D. Lobel, born in Lille, doctor and botanist to James I of England) on the right and Charles de l’Ecluse (C. Clusius, born Arras in 1526 died 1609, botanist and doctor, author of works such as Rariorum plantarum historia) on the left.
Some copies of Jardin du roy tres chrestien include partially colored, colored and black and white plates. The reason is quite simple. The editions were sold as black and white plates with instructions provided to the reader to color/paint the plates.
Vallet’s interest in flowers and gardens was directly related to his work as an embroiderer. Flowers were popular subjects for embroidery and exotic flowers could be found in the royal gardens. These exotic flowers offered him and others the inspiration needed to create new designs. In French furniture in the middle ages and under Louis XIII (1923), Roger de Felice notes:
The favourite motives for embroidery and needlework were large flowers and fruits done in natural colours. We know that the Jardin du Roi, the Jardin des Plantes of to-day, was expressly established under Henri IV, by the gardener Jean Robin and by Pierre Vallet, the king’s embroiderer, to provide the embroiderers both male and female with new models inspired by exotic plants.
His workds include:
- Touffes de fleurs published in 1601
- A map in Un plan de Paris by Francois Quesnel), published between 1607-1609
- Images for La Terre by Toussaint Dubreuil, published 1610
- Images for Le Feu by Toussaint Dubreuil, published 1610 Toussaint
- Portrait of Himself in 1608
- Portrait of Jean Robin in 1608
- Jardin du roy tres chrestien, published in 1608, 1623 and 1650 under the title of Hortus regius
- Plates for les Ethiopiques by Heliodore d’Emese, 1613 edition
- Illustrations for Aventures amoureuses de Theagene et Chariclee with Gabriel Tavernier, published 1613
- Symbole de Nices, published in 1642
- Le Tresor de portraictre, 1655
Supplement a la Maison du roi Louis XIII by Eugene Griselle
Mémoires de la Société archéologique et historique de l’Orléanais, Volume 17 Société archéologique et historique de l’Orléanais, 1880 by Tranchau
Peintre graveur francais (10 vol) Robert Dumesnil