Today we are sharing stunning 18th century engravings from Volckamer’s “Nurnbergische Hesperides.” A wealthy Nuremberg merchant who had his own fine orangery, Johann C. Volckamer engaged a variety of artists and engravers, including the architectural artist Paul Decker, to produce plates for this distinctive work. Most of the plates are devoted to citrus fruits, bedecked with ribbon and positioned above views of the gardens, town squares, and palaces of Germany, Austria, and Italy. These unusual engravings are prized for their unique combination of botanical illustrations and 18th century garden designs.
In the 18th century, most European gardeners were moving away from ornamental gardens and towards practical gardening of vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Gardens in colder planting zones were enclosed against insects, vermin, and the chilly climate, gifting the gardeners an opportunity to grow and cultivate citrus fruit trees for the first time. While the culture of fruit was the subject of many books- gardeners manuals with instructions as to care and pruning were in abundance- there were comparatively few illustrated books dealing with fruit alone in the beginning of the century. Published in 1708, Volckamer’s “Nurnbergische Hesperides” was one of the first illustrated books dedicated to citrus fruits.
The first volume of “Nurnbergische Hesperides” contained 115 plates, mostly uncolored. Separated into 5 parts, the book’s first four sections focus solely on citrus fruits, while the fifth is devoted to flowers. The plates were engraved by L. C. Glotsh, and were the work of artists P. Decker, B. Kinkel, and I. C. Steinberger.
A continuation, or second volume, of “Nurnbergische Hesperides” was published in 1714, with 132 plates. Again, the plates depict mostly citrus fruits, with the exception of the last section, which highlights pineapple, palm, and coconut trees.The plates were engraved by J. C. Dehne and J. Montalegre, and were the work of artists Delsenbach, T. G. Beckh, Krieger, and F. P. Lidner.