Stunning 17th Century Hyacinth botanical engraving, by Basilius Besler.
Basilius Besler (1561-1629) was a prominent botanist and apothecarist in Nuremberg. He was tasked with curating the garden of Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, the Prince Bishop of Eichstaedt in Bavaria. The Prince also requested a codex of all the plants growing in his garden. This commission would take Besler 16 years to complete and his patron passed away shortly before its publication.
The work was the Hortus Eystettensis, first published in 1613. This seminal volume revolutionised the world of botanical art overnight, comprising 367 life-sized copper engravings which represented 1084 different plants across 667 species. It was first published in 1613.
Before the Hortus Eystettensis, botanical art had been confined to relatively naive depictions of medicinal and culinary herbs, for utilitarian purposes.
Besler published two versions. The more expensive and luxurious was hand-coloured, whilst a more accessible edition was produced in black-and-white.
These engravings are hard to come by and an invaluable piece of botanical history. Not only are they significant, but they are also enormously decorative.
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