Botanical Books of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

by Jutta Buck

with Cynthia Rice

Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717), though best known for her entomological masterpiece Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium published in 1705 at Amsterdam, was also one of the finest botanical artists of the time. Her Neues Blumen Buch (1680) is illustrated with charming hand-colored engravings of the most popular garden flowers.

Other botanical works of note, produced in the early eighteenth century included Nurnbergische Hesperides, published at Nuremberg in 1708 by Johann Christoph Volckamer (1644-1720), which was most probably inspired by Giovanni Ferrari’s (1584-1655) Hesperidis, printed in Rome in 1646.  Ferrari’s decorative depictions of various species of citrus fruits are arranged against a blank background whereas Volckamer’s renderings of citrus fruits float above gardens, small villages and palaces in Germany, Austria and Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L) Citrus from Hesperidis, Giovanni Ferrari, Rome 1646. Copper engraving

(R) Limon cedrado, Schober's Garten, Johann Christoph Volckamer, Nuremberg 1708. Copper engraving 

Johann Jacob Dillenius (1687-1747) was noteworthy for the drawings and etchings illustrating his Hortus Elthamensis (1732).  Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683-1741) produced Phytanthoza Iconographia, another vast botanical publication printed in Augsburg from 1735-1745, with 1025 copper engravings depicting over 4000 figures of plants printed in color and finished by hand.

(L) Camara Melissae from Hortus Elthamensis, Johann Jacob Dillenius, London 1732

(R) Aloe Mucronato folio Americana major from Phytanthoza Iconographia, Johann Wilhelm Weinmann, Augsburg 1735-1745. Mezzotint printed in color and finished by hand

 

Another popular work by Mrs. Elizabeth Blackwell (c 1700-1758), with the refreshing title A Curious Herbal, was published in London from 1737 to 1739 with her own drawings and engravings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L) Love Apple, Lycopersicon esculentum from A Curious Herbal, Mrs Elizabeth Blackwell, London 1737-1739. Hand-colored engraving

(R) Hollyhocks, Malva arborea from A Curious Herbal, Mrs Elizabeth Blackwell, London 1737-1739. Hand-colored engraving

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  • Narcissus tazetta from Neues Blumenbuch, Maria Sybilla Merian, Nuremberg 1680. Hand-colored copper engraving
  • Lilium pumilum from Neues Blumenbuch, Maria Sybilla Merian, Nuremberg 1680. Hand-colored copper engraving