19 December 2002
PORTA, Giovanni Battista della (1535-1615). Phytognomonica. Naples: Orazio Salviani, 1588.
2o (330 x 222 mm). Title within woodcut scrollwork border in four parts, portrait of the author on verso, numerous botanical woodcuts, woodcut headpieces and initials, some historiated, including index often lacking. (Closed tears to text in B3 and P4, a few leaves lightly spotted, scattered tiny losses to margins.) Contemporary limp vellum, gilt-lettered on spine (light soiling). Provenance: Asta Libraria e Antiquaria, Florence (dealer's ticket).
FIRST EDITION. In Phytognomonica, Porta develops the doctrine known as signatures, according to which Divine Providence indicated the medicinal uses of plants through their physiognomy. This "led to some bizarre claims, e.g. that herbs growing in rock clefts will help break up bladder stones, and that plants resembling flies and butterflies promote fecundity" (Norman). The woodcut illustrations often show the plants next to the animals or body parts they are thought to resemble. Harvard/Mortimer Italian 399; Hunt 158; Nissen BBI 463; Norman 1724. A TALL COPY.
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