LEONHARD FUCHS (1501-1566)
LEONHARD FUCHS (1501-1566)

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LEONHARD FUCHS (1501-1566)

De historia stirpium commentarii insignes. Basel: Michael Isingrin, 1542. 2 (360 x 235mm). Woodcut printer's device on title, repeated on final verso, full-page woodcut portrait of the author on verso of title, 509 full-page botanical woodcuts and 3 smaller woodcuts in the text by Veit Rudolph Speckle after Heinrich Fllmaurer and Albert Meyer, woodcut portraits of the three artists on fff5r, woodcut historiated initials in several sizes, ELABORATELY AND FULLY HAND-COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST throughout by an early artist.Title slightly wrinkled and strengthened on verso at margins, a few marginal tears repaired, marginal paper flaw in one leaf, occasional light spotting and light marginal dampstaining.) 16th-century German blindstamped pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, two fore-edge clasps with brass catches (expertly recased), modern brown half morocco box. Provenance: engraved armorial on front pastedown; Linnean identifications in manuscript added c.1789 (inscription tipped on A1r: 'Linneo, cavaliere celebre professore di Bottanico in Firenze a tempo del Granduco Leopoldo primo nel 1789').

A FINE COLOURED COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION of 'perhaps the most beautiful herbal ever published' (PMM). Working in the tradition of the classical herbal reaching back to Dioscorides (1st century A.D.), Fuchs expanded its primarily medicinal and pharmacological interest to include descriptions of the characteristics of plants and their habitats. For that reason he, along with Otto Brunfels whom he fulsomely praises in his introduction, and Hieronymus Bock, are considered fathers of modern botany. Fuchs describes over 400 German and 100 foreign plants, including plants from the New World. Fuchs's herbal is also modern in its accurate and elegant woodcuts drawn from life by Albert Meyer and largely based on plants in Fuchs's garden at Tbingen. Heinrich Fllmauer transferred the designs to the woodblock and Viet Rudolph Speckle cut the blocks for printing. Portraits of all 3 artists are included in the work, which is one of the earliest such honours accorded contributing artists. The woodcuts were reused in later editions of Fuchs's herbal, successfully reduced in smaller-format editions of Fuchs, copied in the works of Bock, Dodoens and others, and pirated in contemporary botanical works -- a use heatedly contested by Fuchs during his lifetime. Adams F-1099; Fairfax Murray German 175; Grolier/Norman 100 Books Famous in Medicine, 17; Hunt 48; Nissen BBI 658; PMM 69; Pritzel 3138.
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