Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (about 1533-1588)
Apple (Malus pumila Millervar)
Watercolour and body colour on paper
Museum no. AM.3267Y-1856
This is one of fifty nine watercolours of fruit and flowers that the French artist Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues painted on thirty three sheets. We do not know exactly when he painted them, but there are some clues. The watermark in the paper is the same as that used in Paris and Arras in 1568, and the binding is French. It therefore seems likely that they date from the period between 1568 and 1572. This is when Le Moyne fled to England with other Huguenots (French Protestants) to escape religious persecution in France.
The watercolours were originally in a fine tooled-leather binding dating to the late 16th century. Curators identified the watercolours as the work of Le Moyne in 1922. They removed them from the binding and mounted them individually. (The binding is in the collection of the National Art Library at the V&A.)
In the 16th century botanical illustrators revived the practice of working from real plants rather than copying from earlier painted or printed images. Here the degree of naturalistic detail, including leaves which have been damaged by insects, suggests that Le Moyne was studying a living specimen rather than using an existing illustration as his source.