The Old Print Shop

Fraxinella. Epipactis Angustifolys. Asphodelus Liliaceus. [Dictamnus, Goodyera Orchid, Daylilies].

  • ARTIST: Basilius Besler

  • MEDIUM: Copper plate engraving,

    DATE: 1613-c.1640.

  • EDITION SIZE: Sheet size 20 3/4 x 16 3/4" (52.8 x 42.5 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: An engraving of three flowers. Epipactis Angustifolys, also known as Goodyera, is a genus of Cranichideae orchid native to New Guinea. Fraxinella, also known as dictamnus or gas plant, is native to Eurasia. Asphodelus Liliaceus is better known as a daylily. <br><br> From one of the greatest botanical picture books ever created, "Hortus Eystettensis." Published in Eichstatt, Germany. Besler’s botanical work “is without doubt one of the greatest flower books ever produced in any country," according to De Belder. It is “splendid in its array of large drawings, magnificent as a record of the plants in a German garden at the beginning of the seventeenth century” (Hunt). That celebrated garden belonged to Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, Prince-Bishop of Eichstatt. An apothecary and botanist, Besler was in charge of designing and maintaining the garden. He spent 16 years creating the drawings for this work. Hortus Eystettensis consists of 374 plates, arranged according to the season. More than 1,000 flowers are depicted, representing 667 species. This work was first issued in 1613 and reissues in 1640 and 1718.<br><br> Dramatic and often intensely colored, the Besler florals are the largest early botanical prints ever made. Not until the publication of Dr. Robert Thornton’s "Temple of Flora" 200 years later was there another botanical work fine enough to equal Besler’s. [De Belder 23, 25. Hunt 430. Nissen 158. Blunt, 95-97]


  • CONDITION: Good condition with additions of later handcolor. Minor spotting.