In the eyes of Patrick Serouge: Besler Herbarium

In Patrick Serouge's booth, time freezes and slips through your fingers... Between world maps, archiectural plans, Japanese and zoological prints, botanical etchings flourishes the walls. This week, Patrick Serouge is highlighting an extremely rare original etching from the Besler Herbarium.

This original etching was part of the famous "Hortus Eystettensis" or "Besler Herbarium", published in 1613. The publisher, Basilius Besler was a German physician, botanist.

This work is composed of 367 boards representing the plants of the garden of Prince-Bishop Johann Konrad von Gemmingen (1561-1612) in Eichstätt, in the order of the flowering seasons. More than 1000 botanical figures were represented there. The achievement of this colossal undertaking for the time spanned 15 years and with the collaboration of more than six different engravers, the most important of which was Wolfgang Kilian.

It is an extremely rare collection since there were only about thirty colored copies of this so-called “royal” format (56.5 x 44.2 cm).

This work is undeniably the best it has done in the 17th century. No one had edited something of such a large format. It constitutes the most beautiful collection that exists, the colors and the lines are of an exceptional quality. Over four centuries, we can say that this is the most beautiful thing! This herbarium truly reflects the botanical knowledge of the time and clearly shows the fascination and curiosity aroused by all these species of plants.

The whole is beautifully descriptive, which even allowed the reconstruction of the episcopal garden of Eichstätt in 1998.


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