17th Century Prints, Botanical, Engraving, Prints

Besler Botanicals

Below are three hand-colored copper engravings from Basil Besler’s Hortus Eystettensis, the first great florilegium. Published in Eichstatt, 1613, two of these prints come from the first edition. Besler’s botanical work “is without doubt one of the greatest flower books ever produced in any country,” according to De Belder. It is “splendid in its array of large drawings, magnificent as a record of the plants in a German garden at the beginning of the seventeenth century” (Hunt). An apothecary and botanist, Besler was in charge of designing and maintaining the celebrated garden of Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, Prince Bishop of Eichstatt. Besler spent 16 years creating the drawings for this work.

Hortus Eystettensis consists of 374 plates, arranged according to season. More than 1,000 flowers are depicted, representing 667 species. Dramatic and often intensely colored, the Besler florals are the largest early botanical prints ever made. Not until the publication of Dr. Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora 200 years later was there another botanical work fine enough to equal Besler’s.

Asparagus domesticus. Thyrsus Aasparagi. Basilius Besler. Engraving handcolored, 1613. Paper size about 22 x 17 7/8" (565 x 455mm). Good condition with later hand color.

Asparagus domesticus. Thyrsus Aasparagi. Basilius Besler. Engraving handcolored, 1613. Paper size about 22 x 17 7/8″ (565 x 455mm). Good condition with later hand color.

Cinara major Boloniensis, Cinara Genuensium, Cinara seu Artischochi vulgatior. (Artichoke). Basilius Besler. Engraving, hand colored. 1618-c.1640. Sheet size 20 3/8 x 17" (520 x 432  mm). Overall good condition.  Currently located at The Old Print Shop in NYC.

Cinara major Boloniensis, Cinara Genuensium, Cinara seu Artischochi vulgatior. (Artichoke). Basilius Besler. Engraving, hand colored. 1618-c.1640. Sheet size 20 3/8 x 17″ (520 x 432 mm). Overall good condition.
Currently located at The Old Print Shop in NYC.

Helleboraster maximus. Basilius Besler. Engraving, c.1640. Sheet size 21 7/8 x 17 1/4" (557 x 438 mm). Good condition and color. Currently located at The Old Print Shop in NYC.

Helleboraster maximus. Basilius Besler. Engraving, c.1640. Sheet size 21 7/8 x 17 1/4″ (557 x 438 mm). Good condition and color. Currently located at The Old Print Shop in NYC.

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5 thoughts on “Besler Botanicals

  1. Helleboraster maximus– had to search to attempt to learn of it, but the other two were no mystery, I love veggies. Having them linked to pharmacopoeia, now that was worth taking note of. Interesting post.

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