Basil Besler. Pl. 222. [White & Rose-Colored Double Flowered Hollyhocks] From Hortus Eystettensis.
Eicstatt, . Folio. Ca. 19 x 15 1/2 (plate mark). Engraving with expert hand coloring. Minor spot. Very good condition. One of a group of superbly decorative and very early botanical prints. Basil Besler (1561-1629) was a Nuremberg apothecary who had as his patron the Prince Bishop of Eicstatt (near Nuremberg). While in charge of the bishop's elaborate gardens, Besler, with the financial support of his patron, undertook his great project of botanical illustration. Off and on for sixteen years he created drawings which, with the help of six skilled engravers, were turned into two large folio volumes of 374 plates, illustrating more than one thousand flowers. The prints were arranged by seasons, with the plants shown whole and life size. Besler's monumental florilegium invites the use of superlatives when describing it. It was the most comprehensive as well as the largest early work of its kind. It is also one of the most delightfully drawn and visually impressive ever made. Each plate is wonderfully designed with the rhythmic pattern of the roots and stems, as well as the calligraphic invention of the lettering fully developed. These are truly joyous prints from one of the most outstanding works of botanical illustration of all time.