MUNTING, Abraham (1626-1683). Naauwkeurige Beschyving der Aardgewassen, waar in de veelerley aart en bijzondere eigenschappen der boomen, heesters, kruyden, bloemen. Leiden & Utrecht: Pieter vander Aa & François Halma, 1696.
3 parts in two volumes, 2° (387 x 260mm). Half-title, title in red and black with engraved vignette. Engraved additional title by J.Baptiste Monnoyer after J. Goeree, 243 etched and engraved plates, engraved headpieces and large repeated tail-piece. Contemporary Dutch blindstamped vellum over pasteboard, covers with large central blocked arabesque, early manuscript lettering to spine. Provenance: Karl Magnusson (bookplate).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EXPANDED VERSION of Munting's Waare offening planten. This work includes some of the finest botanical illustrations of their time, images which represent 'a radical departure from the iconography of then traditional florilegium... Each plate shows a different plant in flower, including many exotic species from America and other distant lands. The plant dominates the foreground, filling the entire page, often with a detail of the fruit or the flowers presented on a smaller scale. In some cases the plants are presented à trompe l'oeil, while in others they have been arranged in decorated urns. Sometimes gardening tools are depicted as well. The name of each plant appears written on an elegantly fluttering ribbon or cartouche, or on a crumbling marble plaque. The originality of the work lies, however, in the small landscapes that have been inserted into the background of the plates. Here the artist gave full rein to his imagination, delineating scenes that in reality bore little relation to the actual habitat of the plants. Pastorals with animals and figures alternate capriously with vistas of walled cities and landscapes containing classical statues and ruins' (Lucia Tongiorgi-Tomaso An Oak Spring Flora p.174).
Although Tongiorgi-Tomaso goes on to say 'it is not known who actually conceived this idea of combining botanical illustration with landscape scenes' the re-appearance and subsequent sale of the majority of the original drawings for this work (these rooms, 19 May 1998, lot 68) has allowed for a re-appraisal of the images. The initial botanical line drawings (apparently commissioned by Abraham Munting) are now known to have been by about ten different but unidentified artists. Some time after Munting's death, and in preparation for their publication, these line drawings had tone and the pictorial back- and fore-grounds added by Jan Goeree (1670-1731) under the supervision of the publishers. The engraving and etching was then carried out by Joseph Mulder and Jacob Gole.
In 1642 Hendrik Munting (1583-1658) founded a botanical garden within the fortification circuit of Groningen. With its hothouses and forcing houses it came to be known as the 'Paradise of Groningen'. Munting's son, Abraham, director of the garden from 1658 and professor of Botany at the university of Groningen, was the instigator of the present work. Following the appearance of the second edition of his Waare Oeffening der Planten in 1682, Abraham expanded the text by two thirds and had additional drawings prepared for a projected third edition. His death in 1683 prevented him from completing this project and his son Albert did not continue with his father's plan. When Albert died in 1694 the drawings (and text) were acquired by a group of "bekostigers" (backers). They decided to proceed with the expanded edition, but with the text translated from the Groningen dialect into Dutch and Latin, and in a folio format. The present work is the triumphant result of their decision. Hunt I, 396; Nissen BBI 1428; Oak Spring Flora. 45; Pritzel 6556. (2)