Botanicals, Besler Basilus, Spatula Foetida, Cruciata and Caucalis Dodenei, c1613

Botanicals, Besler Basilus, Spatula Foetida, Cruciata and Caucalis Dodenei, c1613

Regular price $6,000.00 Sale

Date: c1613 (17C prints)

Artist: Besler Basilus (1561-1629)

Engraver: Kilian, Wolfgang (1581-1662)

Paper Size: 545 x 435mm

Plate Size 480 x 400mm

Condition: Considering its age, good. (Prints are approx 400+ years old)

Technique: copperplate engraving

Price: $6000

Description: hand-coloured copperplate engraving 

Provenance:

Botanical Prints from Hortus Eystettensis, [The Garden of Eichstätt]

Also called Florilegium which is "a gathering of flowers"

Nuremberg: 1613 (1st ed.), 1640 (2nd ed.), 1713 [- c. 1750] (3rd ed.)

Magnificent flower prints from the first great botanical folio called Hortus Eystettensis.          This huge selection includes flowers, herbs and tomatoes and each print is identified with its Latin name on each print. Only a few copies were coloured at the time of printing 

The prints were commissioned by Johann Konrad von Gemmingen (c. 1561-1612), Prince-Bishop of Eichstätt, to chronicle his garden through the four seasons, with most of the plants depicted in actual size. This garden, which encircled the Episcopal residence, was one of the first of its kind, an inclusive display of shrubs and flowering plants, mostly European, but with some then exotic species from Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Basil Besler, a pharmacist and botanist, was retained as an artist to record the glories of the garden. Besler worked on intermittently over a 16-year period, either on-site or from specimens. A team of at least six engravers faithfully translated Besler’s drawings to copperplates, Wolfgang Kilian (1581 -1662) chief among them.

The first large-folio natural history botanical, Basilius Besler’s magnificent work, Hortus Eystettensis (Garden of Eichstätt), is the earliest pictorial record of a specific garden and the oldest of all of the great botanicals. Over 1,000 varieties of flowers are depicted in 367 exquisitely engraved and colored plates.

The first botanical in history to portray flowering plants as objects of beauty, Hortus Eystettensis deviated from non-aesthetic and awkward representations of preceding publications that focused on plants as herbal subjects and set the standard for great flower folios of the following centuries. Wilfred Blunt, noted author of The Art of Botanical Illustration an Illustrated History, writes of the Besler Florilegium,

The first botanical in history to portray flowering plants as objects of beauty, Hortus Eystettensis deviated from non-aesthetic and awkward representations of preceding publications that focused on plants as herbal subjects and set the standard for great flower folios of the following centuries. Wilfred Blunt, noted author of The Art of Botanical Illustration an Illustrated History, writes of the Besler Florilegium,

Work on the first comprehensive botanical garden devoted to flowering plants in Germany was begun in 1596, under the direction of the German botanist and physician Joachim Camerarius the Younger. Eight separate gardens were constructed at Willibaldsburg castle, the residence of Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, the Prince Bishop of Eichstätt. Each garden was devoted to flowers of a different country. Exotic flowers were imported from the Netherlands, the Americas, and the Ottoman Empire. Upon Joachim Camerarius’ death in 1598, the Bishop called upon Basilius Besler (1561—1629), a Nuremberg apothecary, for guidance on specimens for the gardens.

Basilius Besler introduced the idea of documenting the vast garden and depicting each plant as it bloomed throughout the four seasons, hence the work is sometimes referred to as the Four Seasons. The Prince Bishop wrote that the Nuremberg apothecary “wishes to have [drawings of his flowers] engraved in copper, printed, dedicated to me and to seek his fame and profit with the book….” Basilius Besler worked on the drawings for 16 years, but most of the colored sketches were made between 1610 and 1612. These were sent to the workshop of Wolgang Kilian in Augsburg to be translated by skilled artists into black-and-white drawings that could serve as templates for the engravings which were executed in Wolgang Kilian’s workshop by a team of engravers. Colorists then carefully hand-colored each engraved plate.

Biography

Basilius Besler,(1561-1629) was born in Nuremberg

Respected Nurembergwas an apothecary, botanist and curator at a time when herbal medicine was very important. The earliest known visual record of plantsaround that time  were known as herbals and these were used by apothecaries. 

He was best known for his monumental Hortus Eystettensis (Garden in Eichstätt), published in Nuremberg in 1613. more, strictly speaking, Besler was also the publisher as he engaged the services of artists, engravers, printers, and colourists,  Botanical descriptions were thought to have been written by Ludwig Jungermann. 

Besler was commissioned by the Prince Bishop of Eichstätt to document the plants growing in his garden  which at that time, was the only notable European botanical garden outside of Italy. This task took sixteen years to complete. The publication of Hortus Eystettensis changed botanical art overnight.  Garden flowers, vegetables, exotic plants and herbs were artistically composed,  elaborately depicted near life-size and arranged with an average of 3 plants per page. More than 1000 plants were depicted, reflecting the four seasons in the prince’s garden.  

The first edition of 300 copies published in 1613 took four years to sell.  Besler was able to purchase a comfortable home for 2500 florins (5 copies of Hortus Eystettensis).  It was published twice more in Nuremberg in 1640 and 1713 using the original copper plates which were later destroyed by the Royal Mint of Munich in 1817.

The gardens were sacked by invading Spanish troops in 1633-64 but were reconstructed and opened to the public of Eichstätt in 1998.