Offered by: Shapero Gallery
105 New Bond Street London W1S 1DN , England Call Seller 44.207.493.0876


Basilius Besler, a set of Hand-coloured Peonies, copper engraved plates, 1640

$ 17,500
  • Description
    Four copper engraved plates with hand-colour. Framed and Glazed, Overall Size: 51.2 x 60.3 cm.

    Magnificent plates from "Hortus Eystettensis", one of the earliest and most famous works in the field. The Hortus Eystettensis is a pictorial record of the flowers grown in the greatest German garden of its time, that of Prince Bishop of Eichstatt, Johann Conrad von Gemmingen. The garden was begun by Joachim Camerarius in 1596 and, after his death in 1598, completed by Basil Besler, a pharmacist from Nuremberg. A visitor, Philipp Hainhofer, in 1611 marvelled at the eight gardens, each containing 'flowers from a different country; they varied in the beds and flowers, especially in the beautiful roses, lilies, tulips.' The Hortus records this variety and beauty. The book is exceptional in every sense; in its variety and range of flowers, in its size, in its fine quality of engraving. It is also one of the earliest records of flowers from a specific, documented garden.

    Besler was asked to complete the work by Gemmingen in 1606; the huge nature of the task was clear to Besler and he enlisted the help of his younger brother Hieronymus and Ludwig Jungermann, a nephew of Camerarius. Printing the Hortus may have begun as early as 1607. Drawings were made in situ and from specimens sent by the Bishop to Nuremberg; the Bishop reported to Hainhofer that he had boxes of fresh flowers sent every week to Besler at Nuremberg for sketching. A team of at least 10 engravers were employed to translate the drawings to copperplates.

    The gardens, along with most of the town of Eichstatt, were destroyed by the invading Swedish troops under Herzog Bernhard von Weimar in 1633-4, although they were partially restored by later bishops. Many of the original drawings survive in the University Library, Erlangen.
  • More Information
    Documentation: Signed
    Origin: France
    Period: Pre 18th Century
    Materials: watercolour engraving
    Condition: Good.
    Creation Date: 1620
    Styles / Movements: Color
    Dealer Reference #: 96802
    Incollect Reference #: 318611
  • Dimensions
    W. 20.16 in; H. 23.74 in; D. 0.08 in;
    W. 51.2 cm; H. 60.3 cm; D. 0.2 cm;
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