MATTIOLI, Pier Andrea. ''Chamelea.'' Woodblock by Giorgio LIBERALE and Wolfgan MEYERPECK. 220 x 155 mm.
MATTIOLI, Pier Andrea. "Chamelea." Woodblock by Giorgio LIBERALE and Wolfgan MEYERPECK. 220 x 155 mm.
The large Mattioli woodblocks were designed by Georgio Liberale, an Italian artist from Udine who had been working for the imperial court in Prague, and a German named Wolfgang Meyerpeck. Their work resulted in some of the finest woodcuts of any herbal produced in any century. The blocks were first used in a Czech edition printed in Prague in 1562 by George Melantrichus. They were then used again in a 1563 German translation again printed in Prague this time by Georg Handsch. A beautiful Latin edition was brought out in 1568 printed by Valgrisi (see lot 145). The present block for the chamelea was used for the image appearing on page 1327 of the Valgrisi edition. In the eighteenth century the blocks were bought by the French botanist, Henri Louis Duhamel de Monceau (1700-1782). He used 154 of them to illustrate his two volume Traité des Arbres el Arbustes in 1755. A number, possibly as many as seven hundred, of the woodblocks were discovered in Duhamel de Monceau's chateau in 1956 and began to be dispersed. One hundred ten of the Mattioli woodblocks came on the market in Europe in the 1990's. The blocks are cut from the plank of pear wood and many have labels in Duhamel's hand attached to their backs.