Brunfels, Otto


Herbarum vivae eicones ad naturae imitationem: sum[m]a cum diligentia & artificio effigiatae, una cum effectibus earundem, in gratiam ueteris illius, & iamiam renascentis herbariae medicinae.

per Oth. Brunf. recnes editae M.D.XXXII; quibus adiecta ad calcem, appendix isagogica de usu & administratione simplicium, item index contentorum singulorum. 3 v. in 1. Argentorati [Strasbourg]: Apud Ioannem Schottu[m], 1531-1540. Vol. 2 t.p.: Novi herbarii tomus II per Oth. Brunf. recens editus, M.D.XXXI. Vol. 3 t.p.: Tomus herbarii Othonis Brunfelsii III corollariis: operi praefixis, quibus respondet calumniatoribus suis: passim errata quaedam priorum tom. diluens. . .. Argent.: Apud Io. Schottum, M.D.XL.

The appendix to vol. 2 consists of 12 essays by other writers, including H. Bock and L. Fuchs. The piece by Fuchs is his first published botanical writing.--Cf. Johnston, S. Cleveland herbal coll. p. 39. Vol. 3 edited by Michael Herr. Illustrations by Hans Weiditz. Vol. 1, 2nd ed.; vol. 2, 1st ed.; vol. 3, 2nd (?) ed. Errors in pagination throughout. Includes 238 (?) woodcuts of plants. References: Johnston, S. H. Cleveland coll. 42; Hunt 30. Includes indexes. Illustrations, initials, etc. in vols. 1 and 2 and hand-colored. This work by Brunfels, with detailed, exquisite illustrations by Hans Weiditz, offers the first original work in botany. Its importance rests less in its text than in its elegant woodcut illustrations. Most were drawn accurately from actual botanical speciments by Hans Weiditz, one of the best German illustrators of the period. Johann Schott, the publisher, insisted that Weiditz prepare watercolor studies prior to carving his woodblocks because they could be used by the illuminators who would later hand-color the printed illustrations. Some of these watercolors have been preserved in the library of Bern University. The compiler of the text was Otto Brunfels, a pastor and naturalist, and the town physician at Bern. The text was published as illustrations were completed; Brunfels had no opportunity to organize the work according to any botanical system. At one point he apologizes for including a picture of the pasque-flower, now known as an anemone, because he lacked both a Latin name and medicinal use for it. This may give some indication that he did not have control over the book's content. The herbal is arranged alphabetically and emphasizes the illustrations more than written descriptions, since Schott believed that good illustrations sell the book. Scholarship was not his primary goal. Botanists credit Brunfels as the prime motivator of Hieronymous Bock. Because of Brunfels' urging, Bock completed his herbal. Bock's work was more truly scientific than Brunfels' and is considered one of the pillars upon which later botanical study rests.

Subjects: Botany--Pre-Linnean works; Herbs--Early works to 1800.


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