Hortus Eystettensis

Hortus Eystettensis – Aboca Museum – SJ II 2892-2894 – UniversitĂ€tsbibliothek (EichstĂ€tt, Germany)

Eichstatt (Germany) — 1613

The fabulous botanical garden of the bishop of EichstÀtt: More than 1000 copperplate engravings by Basilius Besler of native and exotic plants executed in impressive beauty and botanical accuracy

  1. Prince-Bishop of EichstĂ€tt Konrad von Gemmingen (1561–1612) commissioned this botanical work

  2. Basilius Besler (1561–1629) created 1,000+ copperplates of plants both common and exotic in the bishop's garden

  3. His famous botanical garden was located atop Willibaldsburg castle above EichstÀtt, the seat of the prince-bishops

Hortus Eystettensis

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Formerly 9,600  â‚Ź
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Hortus Eystettensis

The title Hortus Eystettensis refers to the famous, comprehensive and gorgeously illustrated overview work on the flora of the episcopal botanical garden in EichstĂ€tt. From 1595, the garden itself was laid out on behalf of the Prince-Bishop of EichstĂ€tt, Johann Konrad von Gemmingen (1561–1612). The Nuremberg pharmacist Basilius Besler (1561–1629) was also involved in the conception and supervision of the green area on the bastions of Willibaldsburg castle. In 1613, he published an impressive work, the Hortus Eystettensis, which was intended to make the botanical garden known to a wide audience. In three large-format volumes, over 1,000 beautifully colored copperplate engravings present the native and exotic plants in impressive beauty and botanical accuracy. One of the rare and best-preserved first editions of this magnificent botanical work is kept in the EichstĂ€tt University Library.

Hortus Eystettensis

Johann Konrad von Gemmingen (1561–1612), Prince-Bishop of EichstĂ€tt, commissioned the installation of a botanical garden on the bastions of the Willibaldsburg castle above EichstĂ€tt, the seat of the prince-bishops. The famous Hortus Eystettensis was laid out according to the conception and under the supervision of Joachim Camerarius and later Basilius Besler. Precious and exotic plants from both Europe as well as from other parts of the world were presented here in their magnificence and make the garden a means of representing the power of the Prince-Bishop of EichstĂ€tt. The Hortus Eystettensis, which can still be admired today as it was originally conceived in the Willibaldsburg, was was one of the most famous gardens in Germany!

The Flora of the Hortus Eystettensis in a Luxury Volume

Basilius Besler (1561–1629), a pharmacist, botanist, and publisher from Nuremberg who was also responsible for the design of EichstĂ€tt’s botanical garden, planned to make the Prince-Bishop’s Hortus Eystettensis available to the broader public through a publication. This splendid work finally appeared in the year 1613: three large-format volumes totaling 734 pages with 367 tables and 1,084 life-size representations of plants. Some of the tables can be unfolded upward so that one can see a plant on a single page from roots to flowers.

The Colored Depictions

Gorgeous and vividly, powerfully colored, these copperplate engravings present the great variety of the Hortus Eystettensis with its medical-, ornamental-, and agricultural-plants: splendidly blooming flowers and rare medicinal plants, delicious berries, and exotic fruits. The colored depictions possess both a beauty that flatters the eye as well as botanical accuracy. It was for that purpose that Besler obtained the support of the botanist Ludwig Jungermann.

The Precious First Edition

One of the few surviving first editions of the famous luxury botanical book Hortus Eystettensis can be found today in the EichstĂ€tt University Library, where the original preliminary sketches for the grandiose copperplate engravings are also stored. This is “one of the best surviving copies of the colored first printing.” The luxury edition of the Hortus Eystettensis was a tremendous success and appeared into the 18th century in a total of five editions. The first edition – with colored copperplate etchings for good measure – is nevertheless considered to be the most magnificent!


Alternative Titles
EichstÀtter Garten
Size / Format
3 volumes - 734 pages / 56.0 × 47.0 cm
367 plates on "imperial" folios with 1084 life-size coloured copperplate engravings of plants in flower, 5 frontispieces and a plate with a portrait of the author
Illustrated treatise on the plants of the Botanical Garden of the Willibaldsburg
Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, Prince Bishop of EichstĂ€tt (1561–1612)
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Hortus Eystettensis – Aboca Museum – SJ II 2892-2894 – UniversitĂ€tsbibliothek (EichstĂ€tt, Germany)
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2006
Limited Edition: 1450 copies
Detail Picture

Hortus Eystettensis


This very round, purple artichoke fruit is described by Basilius Besler as "Cinara Genuensium", which means "Genoese artichoke". The figure is limited to the visually appealing fruit and ignores all other parts of the plant such as the stem, leaves and blossoms. This clearly emphasizes the edible and therefore useful part for humans. Meanwhile, artfully placed light accents reflect the natural matt sheen on the fleshy bracts of the plant, which was originally cultivated in the Mediterranean region.

Hortus Eystettensis – Aboca Museum – SJ II 2892-2894 – UniversitĂ€tsbibliothek (EichstĂ€tt, Germany)
Single Page

Hortus Eystettensis

Lilium Montanum

This page shows a species of lily that Basilius Besler entitled "Lilium Montanum". The two-parted depiction corresponds to the further description in the caption: dozens of white flowers with fine red speckles emerge from the long, straight stem. Another remarkable feature of the representation is the roots, which protrude as if the stem of the lily were in the soil.

The decorative plant could be a Lilium speciosum, which was originally endemic to KyĆ«shĆ« and Shikoku in Japan before spreading as a popular plant for cultivation. Interestingly, its scaly bulb is edible when cooked and is said to be reminiscent of the taste of potatoes – it is therefore much more than just an ornamental plant!

Hortus Eystettensis – Aboca Museum – SJ II 2892-2894 – UniversitĂ€tsbibliothek (EichstĂ€tt, Germany)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Hortus Eystettensis

Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2006

Publisher: Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2006
Limited Edition: 1450 copies
Binding: Embossed white leather true to the original Protected by a black Solander box
Commentary: 1 volume (286 pages) by Klaus W. Littger, Alessandro Menghini, Wolf-Dieter MĂŒller-Jahncke, Duilio Contin, Werner Dressendorfer, and Valentino Mercati
Languages: English, German, Italian
1 volume: 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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Formerly 9,600  â‚Ź
Special Offer until 06/30/2024 (like new) 4,799  â‚Ź
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