Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli Illustrated by Gherardo Cibo

Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli Illustrated by Gherardo Cibo

Venice (Italy) — 1568

Impressive for even the author himself: beautiful plant depictions of the work of the famous botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli

  1. The text by Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501–77) represents a milestone of early science and of botany in particular

  2. This particular specimen was adorned with colored engravings by the great Gherardo Cibo (1512–1600)

  3. Even the author was impressed by the botanical depictions set amongst gorgeous pastoral landscapes

Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli Illustrated by Gherardo Cibo

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli Illustrated by Gherardo Cibo

The Discourses by Pietro Andrea Mattioli represent a milestone in the emerging art of botany. Mattioli’s text builds on the Dioscorides tradition while also introducing and describing another 100 plants. This particularly splendid edition of the groundbreaking work was adorned with miniatures and other décor by the great artist Gherardo Cibo that greatly impressed Mattioli. The work was printed in 1568 in the Venetian publishing house of Valgrisi and is significant for both the history of art and science.

Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli Illustrated by Gherardo Cibo

A masterpiece of medical-botanical literature, enriched by the colors and miniatures of a great master: the Discourses by Pietro Andrea Mattioli in the famous large print version published by Valgrisi in Venice in 1568. The specimen, now residing at the Alessandrina Library in Rome, is renowned for the magnificent decorations by Gherardo Cibo, who, in addition to coloring the engraving, completed the backgrounds with evocative landscapes produced by his fertile imagination.

A Gorgeous Specimen of a Vital Scientific Text

Presented in a magnificent manner, this text is a document of the progress of scientific thought during the genesis of modern science. Mattioli’s work not only commented on the Materia Medica by Dioscorides, he also described 100 new plants, not all of which necessarily had medical applications, making it one of the first works that examined botany outside of medicine. The numerous copies of the original to have been produced, as well as the quality of this individual specimen, speak to its importance. This specimen united the work of a great botanist with a master painter, presumably at the behest of a high-ranking bibliophile and lover of gardening. Thus, it represents a significant specimen of Renaissance art and science simultaneously.

The Author’s Impression of the Artist

This is how Mattioli expressed himself concerning Cibo's art and, in particular, his botanical illustrations, in a letter dated 24 June 1565: "It really seems to me that they are so alive and natural, that one could not ask for anything better; and most importantly that one can perceive an elegance afforded to them by the decoration with pleasant village landscapes that cannot be felt in the presence of natural images alone. For this reason I tell you that even though I have received colored drawings of plants from many different places, there is such a difference between these and the former, as one can see between lead and silver or, even better, between lead and gold" (Siena Municipal Library, cod. miscell. D, vii, 2. c. 15 r.).


Alternative Titles
Pietro Andrea Mattioli's Discorsi
Discourses by Pietro Andrea Mattioli
Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli illustiert von Gherardo Cibo
Size / Format
1,728 pages / 35.8 × 25.0 cm
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Discorsi di P. A. Mattioli Illustrated by Gherardo Cibo – Rari 278 – Biblioteca Alessandrina (Rome, Italy)
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2015
Limited Edition: not limited
Facsimile Editions

#1 I Discorsi di P.A. Mattioli

Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2015
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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