antique prints, maps and watercolors

(Shell flower, Melissa herb...) Hortus Eystettensis. Eichstatt, Germany [1613] 1700. $850.00

click for detailed image Besler Melissa.jpg

"Melissa Moldavica flo re coeruleo, Moluca odorata spinosa, Melissa Officinarum”

This original engraved botanical plate was included in a later edition (1645-70) of Hortus Eystettensis, initially printed in Germany in 1613. The magnificent work was the first florilegium (great flower book) produced for pleasure and edification, and not for strictly medicinal purposes. Incredibly, the botanical work contained 367 images of over 1,000 varieties of flowering plants. This amazing accomplishment was the result of the collaboration of two men, a Nuremberg apothecary named Basil Besler (1561-1629) and his patron the Prince Bishop of Eichstatt. They worked on it in tandem for sixteen years and included images of all of the flowers and plants grown in the extraordinarily extensive gardens the Prince created in the lands surrounding his castle. The volume included many plants and flowers seen and described for the very first time including many exotic plants brought to the Prince from Mexico and the Americas. The copper plate engravings were printed on unusually large sheets of hand-made paper in order to show each plant life size. Besler carefully identified his specimens with a flourishing baroque style engraved calligraphy. Considered the “best of the best” in early botanical engravings by scholar and collector both.

Copperplate engraving, hand colored.
20 x 16 inches sheet size.
Excellent condition.