Museum-quality manuscript herbal

Schötz, Wolfgang, Swabian pharmacist (d. 1695). Flora delicians, sive icones plantarum ex hortis, pratis et nemoribus nostratibus collectarum, artificisque penicillo exhibitarum studio Wolfgangi Schoetzij pharmacopaei Memmingensis.

Memmingen, 1676.

Folio (208 x 310 mm). Latin ms. and illustrations on paper. 184 ff. with gilt-raised title-page and a total of 292 watercolour and gouache plant illustrations (1 double-page), captioned and numbered 1-290 by a contemporary hand (nos. 45 and 149 assigned twice). 19th century green half cloth over marbled boards. Stored in custom-made half morocco case.


Unique, museum-quality manuscript herbal, previously unknown to research, compiled for the Memmingen pharmacist Wolfgang Schötz by an unidentified but obviously professionally trained artist. The nearly 300 watercolours and gouaches, all impressively accomplished, show the principal Central European medicinal, poisonous, spice and ornamental plants as they were to be found in the gardens, meadows and forests of the free imperial city of Memmingen: hollyhock, tarragon, snow pea, prunella, dandelion, spiked rampion (phyteuma spicatum), swallow-wort (asclepias vincetoxicum), echium, caper spurge (euphorbia lathyris), white bryony (wild hop, Bryonia alba), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), poppy (papaver rhoeas), banewort (atropa belladonna), foxglove (digitalis), hemlock (Conium maculatum), as well as splendid tulips, irises and martagon lilies, Jacob's ladder (polemonium), rose, chrysanthemum, gentian, daffodil, barberry, etc. The shapes of the leaves and blossoms, often also of the roots and bulbs are rendered with extreme precision; occasionally, the illustration is enlivened with beetles, caterpillars and other insects, drawn with similarly meticulous realism. The Latin and German captions are apparently by two different writers; some of the Latin annotations may be in Schötz's own hand. The quality of the draughtsmanship and colouring approaches that of the roughly contemporaneous studies by Nicolas Robert, whose documentation of the plants in the French royal gardens, commissioned by the court of Versailles, were famous even then and remain so to this day.

The pharmacist Wolfgang Schötz (Schütz) also served as judge in the municipal court of his native Memmingen. Correspondence in his hand with the German physician and alchemist Johann Joachim Becker (1635-82) has survived in the latter scholar's posthumous papers in Rostock. Schötz was considered "the largest and strongest man" in town; when he died in 1695, ten men were needed to bear his mortal remains to the graveyard (cf. J. F. Unold, Geschichte der Stadt Memmingen [1826], p. 292).

Title-page somewhat duststained and rubbed. Leaves numbered 1-183 in pencil in the later 19th century, probably during rebinding; a few leaves transposed. A few edge flaws (some with early repairs); edges somewhat fingerstained and dampstained throughout with a larger dampstain near the end, but illustrations preserved in brilliant original colour. A masterpiece of botanical illustration.

Stock Code: BN#50968 Tags: , , ,