King Philip II’s natural encyclopedia: 218 richly detailed depictions of plants and animals

Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex

Spain — 16th century

Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex

Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex

Spain — 16th century

  1. An inside view of the unbelievably great medical and biological knowledge of the Renaissance

  2. The significant scientific work contains over 218 richly detailed illustrations of plants and animals

  3. Philip II (1527–98) dedicated the precious text to his personal physician and confidant Dr. Honoratio Pomar

Atlas de historia natural de Felipe II (Códice Pomar)

Natural History Atlas of Philip II - Pomar Codex

Armadillo de Indias

With a name meaning “little armored one” in Spanish, the armadillo is an extremely unusual mammal that is covered with plates of dermal bone, and many defend themselves by curling up into a ball. Their natural range stretches across South America and as far north as Texas. This handsome depiction is fairly accurate aside from the exaggerated size of the head and does a wonderful job of duplicating the patterned “shell” of the armadillo in addition to detailing its scaled skin and pointed ears.

Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex

Alternative Titles:
  • Atlas de historia natural de Felipe II (Códice Pomar)
  • Atlas Historiae Naturalis
  • Atlas Historiae Naturalis von Philipp II. - Pomar-Codex
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The 16th century Natural History Atlas of Philip II of Spain is one of the first significant illuminated manuscripts about biology in the Middle Ages. It contains charmingly colored miniatures in great fidelity conveying an inside view of the unbelievably great medical and biological knowledge of people during the Renaissance. Philip II dedicated the precious text to his personal physician and confidant Dr. Honoratio Pomar, one of the University of Valencia’s most famous scientists.

Natural History Atlas of Philip II - Pomar Codex

The Atlas Historiae Naturalis is one of the first colored illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages that was concerned with the lifeworld of animals and plants. The significant scientific work contains over 218 richly detailed illustrations of the most diverse creatures and plants. The manuscript documents the high level of knowledge about biology in the Middle Ages, which had to be acquired by researchers at the time completely without technical aids. King Philip II of Spain personally commissioned the informative text and dedicated it to one of his close confidants, namely Dr. Honorato Pomar. It is for this reason that the natural history atlas is also known by as the Pomar Codex.

An Age of Science

The Atlas Historiae Naturalis originated during the 16th century, during the Renaissance era. There is hardly another epoch during which more scientific breakthroughs occurred than the Renaissance. Not only were technology, mathematics, and physics on the rise during the time when Nicolaus Copernicus and Isaac Newton lived, but the disciplines of medicine and biology also reached new levels during the Renaissance. The Natural History Atlas of Philip II united all of the biological knowledge of that time in a comprehensive and informative codex. Its excellent, natural and realistic miniatures provides laymen and natural-historically interested readers with a thorough insight into their biological surroundings and provides explanations about the modus vivendi of various kinds of animals and plants. The astounding work continued to possess an immeasurable scientific worth centuries after its genesis.

At the Behest of the King

Philip II of Spain inherited the Kingdom of Spain, her American colonies, the Netherlands, the Free-County of Burgundy, the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Duchy of Milan as the oldest and only surviving son of Charles the V and Isabella of Portugal. The indescribably powerful monarch enjoyed an excellent and comprehensive academic education. His love of literature was already noticeable from a young age. His private library compiled over 13,500 outstanding manuscripts by the time of his death, many of which still exist today and some of which are worth a small fortune. The Atlas Historiae Naturalis possessed a particularly personal significance for Philip, its patron. The magnificent manuscript contains the following dedication on its first page of text: “Our King Philip II presented this book to his personal physician Dr. Honorato Pomar of Valencia, professor of medicinal plants at the University of Valencia.” Dr. Pomar belonged to the circle of the King’s closest confidants and attended to him on a nearly daily basis. Philip gifted him the precious manuscript as a symbol of his great esteem, which the biologist relied on in his daily work.

Unbelievably Delightful Illumination

The fantastically designed miniatures of the Atlas Historiae Naturalis lend the manuscript its high historical and scientific worth. A variety of splendid illustrations exhibits the typical characteristics of the painting of the Italian illuminator Jacobo Ligozzi. Ligozzi, who was from Verona, was one of the most significant and talented painters of animals and plants during the Middle Ages. Even when his delightful miniatures do not bear a signature, the pictures can be attributed to Ligozzi with great certainty because of their stylistic similarities. Some illustrations in the atlas show plants and creatures, which could be found exclusively in America. One can assume that it deals with depictions of the flora and fauna of America because the first expeditions under the Spanish flag were taking place there at the time of the manuscript’s creation. It is possible that the manuscript showed discoveries from the famous expedition of Francisco Hernandez, who explored the natural environment of Mexico from 1571 to 1577. The miniatures not only possess high artistic worth, but also carry an incredibly great significance from a historical perspective.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Atlas de historia natural de Felipe II (Códice Pomar)
Atlas Historiae Naturalis
Atlas Historiae Naturalis von Philipp II. - Pomar-Codex
Size / Format
648 pages / 34.8 x 23.7 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
16th century
Language
Illustrations
218 illustrations in colour painted on one-sided paper
Previous Owners
Atlas de historia natural de Felipe II (Códice Pomar)

Natural History Atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex

Holly

Labelled Aquifolium. Azebo. Hisp., this naturalist miniature of holly, instantly recognizable by its distinctive clumps of red berries, is impressive for its artistry, realism, and simplicity. Holly leaves have become a Christian symbol associated with the crown of thorns, and the berries represent drops of Christ’s blood spilled to redeem the world.

There are about 480 species worldwide, and rather than depicting common European holly, this variety appears to be from the Canary Islands, or could possibly be a hybrid. The branch is depicted sticking out from a larger bough, which has been cut or broken off, and the dark green leaves have light undersides. Most of the leaves are smooth, while others have the more iconic jagged edge.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex“

Atlas de historia natural de Felipe II (Códice Pomar)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
Natural history atlas of Philiph II - Pomar Codex – Ms. 9 – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
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Atlas de historia natural de Felipe II (Códice Pomar)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1990
Limited Edition
3000 copies
Binding
Parchment golden engraved on wooden board. Presentation dust jacket: gold engraved half leather and cloth, containing the facsimile and the commentary volume
Commentary
1 volume (140 pages) by José María López Piñero and Thomas F. Glick

Languages: English, Spanish
More Information
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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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