BRUNFELS, OTTO. Herbarum Vivae Eicones [vol. 1] ad naturae imitationem. Strassburg: Johann Schott, 1530.
Folio, 317 x 214mm, later vellum, flat spine with title label, spine hinges split at head and foot, some leaves browned, worming in final 7 quires affecting some text, repaired in a few leaves, the author's name deleted in ink from title and A1r with resultant hole.
FIRST EDITION. Title printed in red and black within woodcut allegorical border, woodcut arms of Strassburg printed in red and black, 5-part woodcut border to three pages, head- and tailpieces, historiated initials, 86 fine woodcut illustrations of plants by Hans Weiditz, with blank leaves b4 and G6.
"Brunfels was the first great mind in modern botany" (Hunt I, p.40). In a significant departure from the traditional depiction of plants as general types, which were sometimes virtually interchangeable, Brunfels insisted on illustrations drawn from nature, and Hans Weiditz created a remarkable series of "living portraits of plants", as the title promises. His illustrations were so accurate and detailed that they delineated plant parts whose significance was not yet understood, and in this way they outstripped scientific knowledge by almost 200 years. Many of Weiditz's original drawings were rediscovered this century amidst a herbarium of Felix Platter at Bern, which prove the faithful rendering in woodcut of the preparatory watercolor drawings. Contemporary recognition of the significance of the woodcuts is evident in the fulsome praise lavished on Weiditz's work in the prefatory poem, and in the pirated copies made by the Frankfurt printer Egenolff, for which Schott successfully sued for confiscation.
Adams B-2923; Nissen BBI 257; NLM/Durling 724 (giving an incorrect page count for the index); Stafleu & Cowan 852.
Provenance: stamp erased from title -- Kenneth K. Mackenzie; Horticultural Society of New York, bookplate.