Besler, Basilius (illus).
Eichstatt. First published 1613. Ca. 1650.
Engraving, handcolored, 19 x 15 1/2 inches (48 x 39cm) on sheet 20 3/4 x 16 3/4 inches. Dampstaining entering the image at lower left, and in upper margin; tiny hole at centre right of plate not affecting the image, faint 'B' in lower margin, light horizontal crease, light offsetting from text page (scarcely noticeable). Thick fabric-like paper. This is one of the stunning plates from Hortus Eystettensis, the first great florilegium "splendid in its array of large drawings, magnificent as a record of the plants in a German garden at the beginning of the seventeenth century" (Hunt). The work commemorates the celebrated gardens of its patron, Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, Prince Bishop of Eichstatt. "The book is horticultural rather than botanical, and is the earliest pictorial record of flowers in a single garden. It is divided into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter sections and is concerned almost entirely with ornamental plants, including florists' flowers and double forms of flowers best left single ... With the outbreak of the Thirty Years War six years after the Bishop's death, the garden deteriorated, and by 1633 the celebrated collection of plants had reverted to a vegetable plot." (Coats). The plates depict over 1000 flowers representing 667 species, many of them exotics appearing for the first time. The original drawings ... took sixteen years to complete; ten artists and engravers were involved, the most important being Wolfgang Kilian of Augsburg. The author, Basilius Besler (1561-1629), was a Nuremberg apothecary and botanist. The work was completed in Autumn 1613 and three hundred copies were issued. The copper plates survived until 1817, when they were melted down by the Royal Mint in Munich." (de Belder catalogue #23). Several later editions of the work were issued. From the section of autumn plants, this plate shows the Variegated pink four o'clock (from the Nyctaginaceae family) at the centre with the Fringed Gentianella at left and the Bavarian Gentianella at right. The initials HL appear on the bulbous root of the central plant, attributing the painting to Hieronymus Lederer of Nuremburg. Item #39359