Clusius, Carolus


Caroli Clusii Atrebat Rariorum aliquot stirpium per Hispanias obseruatarum historia: libris duobus.

Antverpiae: Ex officina Christophori Plantini, 1576. Colophon: Excudebat Christophorus Plantinus. . . anno MDLXXVI Quarto Kalend. Martii. Illustrated by Clusius and Pieter van der Borcht.--cf. Hunt. "De Aloe America": p. 442-446. Includes other references to the American origin of certain species. Includes indexes. References: Nissen, C. Botanische Buchillustration (2. Aufl.) 370; BM STC Dutch and Flemish, 1470-1600 114; Hunt 125. A few of the illustrations have been colored or partially colored. Ms. note on verso of front flyleaf.

This work describes the rare plants of Spain and Portugal. Clusius' plant descriptions were the best for this time period, especially for their rich detail. Printer Plantin supplied hundreds of beautiful woodcuts by Pieter van der Borcht used also for Lobelius' and Dodoens' works. Carolus Clusius' work has been described as the source from which our modern knowledge of genera originated. His botanical descriptions are still highly regarded.

Clusius was born in Arres, then a part of Flanders. He suffered from ill health all his life, but nevertheless sustained an enormous capacity for work. He was a pupil of the renowned teacher Rondelet who helped to instill a love of botany in Clusius. During his lifetime Clusius travelled extensively, and wherever he went he formed friendships with men of learning. He met Sir Francis Drake in England, and because of their friendship Drake brought back plants from the New World for him to study. His mastery of many languages enabled him to read and translate the works of Dodoens, Orta, Acosta, and Monardes. Clusius' herbal, which included more than 600 entries, was not limited to flowering plants. He was one of the first to write about fungi and mushrooms; some believe he should be honored as the founder of mycology. The woodcuts used in this work were part of a collection held by the publisher, Christopher Plantin. Many of them were drawn by Pierre van der Borcht, one of the outstanding botanical artists of the 16th century.

Although most of the woodblocks were engraved specifically for this work, some were mistakenly used for Dodoens' herbal while Clusius' book was awaiting publication. Clusius, however, was not embittered by this, stating that "whatever friends possess ought to be freely shared." Clusius achieved recognition not only for his writings, but also for introducing the potato to Germany, Austria, France, and the Low Countries. He was acclaimed as the founder of the popular "bulb culture" after introducing to the Netherlands the Ranunculus, Anemone, Iris, and Narcissus from the Mediterranean regions. The Princess de Chimay called him the "father of all the beautiful gardens in the country."

Subjects: Botany--Pre-Linnean works; Botany--Spain; Botany--Portugal.


Next Title
Previous Title
Author Listing
Title Listing
Home Page