Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

Amsterdam (Netherlands); Frankfurt or Leipzig (Germany) — 1649–1667

An encyclopedia with fascinating copperplate engravings by Matthäus Merian: Johnston's main work of the early modern period on trees and fruits

  1. John Jonston's encyclopedia (1603–1675) was the primary work of zoology and botany in his day

  2. The Polish doctor and Renaissance man wanted to compile the knowledge of the world, and order it

  3. The copperplate engravings of trees and fruits originated from Matthäus Merian the Younger (1621–87)

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

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Description
Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

The Historia Naturalis by John Jonston was the primary work of the zoology and botany of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In his comprehensive encyclopedic work, the Polish doctor and Renaissance man wanted to compile the knowledge of the world, order it, and thus make it more easily accessible. One of the books of his Historia Naturalis is concerned with botany. The wonderfully colored copperplate engravings, which illustrated all of the descriptions and adorn the entire work of John Jonston, originated from Matthäus Merian the Younger. This vividly artistic furnishing of the work is also responsible for the great reception and popularity enjoyed by the Historia Naturalis of John Jonston.

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

The Historia Naturalis by John Jonston was the primary work of the zoology and botany of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In his comprehensive encyclopedic work, the Polish doctor and Renaissance man wanted to compile the knowledge of the world, order it, and thus make it more easily accessible. One of the books of his Historia Naturalis is concerned with botany. The wonderfully colored copperplate engravings, which illustrated all of the descriptions and adorn the entire work of John Jonston, originated from Matthäus Merian the Younger. This vividly artistic furnishing of the work is also responsible for the great reception and popularity enjoyed by the Historia Naturalis of John Jonston and the fascination it still invokes in its beholders.

A Significant Renaissance man

The author of the famous biological book of reference was John Jonston (1603–1675), the son of Scottish parents, a doctor, and a Renaissance man from Poland. Through tours and visits of study across all of Europe and for the sake of his exceptional intellectual curiosity, John collected a general knowledge that encompassed a variety of disciplines. He spoke several languages and transmitted his knowledge as a tutor and tour guide to young nobles, among other things. He was famous nevertheless through his numerous publications concerning raising children, philosophy and theology, history, but also medicine and mineralogy, among others. Jonston’s pedagogical aim was a comprehensive general education.

The Famous Historia Naturalis

John Jonston attained great fame due to his incomplete magnum opus. His comprehensively illustrated depiction of the world of plants, animals, and people was the primary work of zoology and botany for a century until the publications of Carl von Linnés’ Systema naturae. One of the volumes is dedicated to botany and addresses trees and fruits in the title. The Historiae naturalis de arboribus et fructibus, which is subdivided into ten books, appeared in Frankfurt in 1662. Numerous new editions and translations from the Latin attest to the popularity of the Historia Naturalis.

A Biological Reference Book with Artistic Adornment

The listing and describing of trees and fruits was wonderfully illustrated with copperplate engravings from the atelier of Matthäus Merian the Younger (1621–1687) in Frankfurt. Merian was active as a painter, copperplate engraver, and publisher. He learned his craft from such great masters as Joachim von Sandrart and Anthonis van Dyck and took over the famous publishing house of his Father, Matthäus Merian the Elder. The illustrator created his detailed and wonderful depictions for Jonston, sometimes according to an example from earlier researchers or simply from nature. The colored illustrations together with the thorough descriptions already made the botanical reference book of John Jonston a huge success in the 16th century and is an entertaining and informative read up to the present.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus
Historia Naturalis: Arborum et Fructicibus
Size / Format
784 pages / 38.0 × 22.0 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
1649–1667
Language
Illustrations
137 copperplate engravings
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus – Private Collection
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2012
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Detail Picture

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

Hamelia

This genus of perennial tropical flowering plants belongs to the coffee family, Rubiaceae and is sometimes referred to as “Firebush” because it is covered by tubular bright red-orange flowers and juicy berries that are dark red when ripe. It has large elliptical leaves with reddish veins and is labelled here under its synonym Tangaraca but is known today as Hamelia in honor of the 18th century French physician, naval engineer, and botanist Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau.

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus
Single Page

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

Malus vulgaris

The Malus vulgaris or “common apple tree” originated from a wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, in Central Ancestor and is cultivated across the globe today as Malus domestica. Today, there are over 7,500 cultivars or types of apples that are raised for eating raw, cooking, or making cider and nearly 90 million apples are produced every year.

From ancient Greek and Norse mythology to Christianity, the apple has been culturally significant around the world. This fine colored engraving makes use of numerous shades of green and shows a robust and mature apple tree on a hill that is flanked by two young trees and a rootstock, which is used to plant new trees whose size and speed of growth can be controlled for easier harvesting.

Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus
Facsimile Editions

#1 Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus

Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2012
Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus – Private Collection
Historia Naturalis: De Arboribus et Fructicibus – Private Collection Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2012
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
2 volumes: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
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