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Clutius; Mattioli, New Kreüterbuch, 1563.

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€19.500,00 EUR
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€19.500,00 EUR




“The apogee of the art of scientific illustration in the sixteenth century”

With extensive notes by the first hortulanus of the Leiden Hortus Botanicus.


Theodorus Clutius [=Dirck Outgaertsz. Cluyt] (1546-1598) [notes]; Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-1577) [author]; Georg Handsch von Limus (1529-1578) [transl.]; Gieorgio Liberale (1542 – 1579) [designs]; Wolfgang Meyerpeck (1505-after 1568) [woodcuts];

New Kreüterbuch mit den allerschönsten und artlichsten Figuren aller Gewechss, dergleichen vormals in keiner Sprach nie an Tag kommen. […] Gezieret mit vilen feinen newen experimenten, künstlichen Distillieröfen, dreyen wolgeordneten Registern, und anderer Nutzbarkeit, wie auss der Vorred zuersehen.

Gedruckt zu Prag : durch Georgen Melantrich von Aventin, auff sein und Vincenti Valgriss Buchdruckers zu Venedig uncosten, 1563. [colophon: Insignia Typographi, Georgii Melantrichi ab Aventino].

Folio in 6s. [38], 1-344, 348-428, 432-452, 456-458, 461-575 ll. [lacks 10 leaves]. Collates: x-5x6, 6x-6x8, A-Z6, a-z6, 2A-2M, 2M6-3B6, 3C-3C2, 3C6-3G2, 3G5-3H2, 3H5-4D6.

Illustrated with 795 of 810 woodcuts (Nissen count), title printed in red and black with woodcut double device of Melantrich and Valgrisi, repeated on final leaf 4D6v, woodcut Melantrich device on 4D5v, woodcut portrait of Mattioli on 2x2r.

Contemporary vellum with 19th century boards. 37 x 25,5 x 9 cm.


The culmination of technical virtuosity in 16th century botanical illustrations, here in an unusual variant with extensive contemporary Dutch annotations by Theodurs Clutius, the first hortulanus (manager) of the renowned Leiden Hortus Botanicus. The annotations in late 16th-century Dutch demonstrate a profound understanding of botany, a level of knowledge possessed by only a select few in The Netherlands at that time. Through correspondence with his friend and colleague Clusius, we were able to attribute these annotations to Clutius (see note).

Mattioli’s New Kreüterbuch was created at the court of Rudolf II in Prague, where great European minds and artists were assembled to work on the imperial collection of animals and plants, propelling the understanding of nature into the Early Modern Age. The book presents several plants from other continents such as aloe, tobacco, cardamom, cloves and Indian peppers, all lavishly illustrated by draughtsman Gieorgio Liberale and woodblock cutter Wolfgang Meyerpeck. This physician's vade mecum ends with a guide to distilling, complete with several illustrations of distillation apparatus.
The book first appeared with these plates in Czech in 1562 and the copy we offer here is the translation into German from 1563. In this language it became more accessible to European audiences.

Dirck Outgaertsz. Cluyt (1546 - 1598) was a renowned apothecary and scientific botanist in the late 16th century Netherlands. Serving as the hortulanus of the Hortus Botanicus Leiden from 1593, he established the first botanical garden in the country. Cluyt's international reputation stemmed from his profound knowledge of herbs, attracting scholars to his pharmacy in Delft and earning commissions for prestigious projects, including preparing balm for William of Orange's body in 1584. In the extensive notes that he penned in the present book he gives various recipes for additional applications of the herbs described, such as a remedy for lice or the for the care of horse hooves. Very little is known about the library of Theodorus Clutius, it seems his books did not get incorporated into the Leiden University collection and no information about an auction of the Clutius book collection is known to us.

Interestingly, there is something strange and noteworthy going on with this copy regarding the edition: judging from the copies we have consulted (Czech National Library (CNL); Bayerische Staatsbibl. (BS); Biodervisity Heritage Libr. (BHL)) it seems there are in fact two editions of this Prague edition with significant differences in the text. For example, in our copy at the head of leaf A it reads “Das Erste Buch von Kreuttern”, while the BS copy reads “Das Erste Buch / von” there. Our copy is mostly similar in edition to the CNL copy, but ours has several erroneous printed leaf numberings, for example leaf 551 is numbered as 548, but this is not the case in the CNL copy. This suggests that our copy might be an early issue of the first edition. This is acknowledged in VD16, but not further described: “Exemplare mit Druckverschiedenheiten im ersten Buch (Abweichungen in der Kapitelbezeichnung sowie bei der Bezeichnung der Pflanzen, unterschiedliche Zeilenbrechung in der Überschrift ...).” [Copies with printing discrepancies in the first book (variations in chapter titles as well as in the naming of plants, different line breaks in the heading...)].


Condition: 10 lacking leaves, damaged first and last pages, wholly trimmed with slight loss of marginalia, otherwise this copy is generally in very fine condition.
On the front cover partially faded inscriptions in ink in two hands, of which one appears to be contemporary but not legible to us. The other hand is 19th century French and reads, in part, “libre de Monsieur Groeneveld de ???”. Binding strengthened with 19 century boards, probably same period as the inscription on front cover. Small tear in head of spine.
Title leaf frayed and creased, but only loss of text at the top of the first initial. This leaf mounted along the blank margin onto the next leaf. Very small contemporary inscription in ink in the publisher’s device: “no. 300”. Occasionally extensive neat contemporary Dutch annotations in ink in the margins, trimmed with slight loss of about 1 cm. on both sides. Leaf x6 loose and slightly frayed. Leaves 6x4-6x5 loose and slightly marginally stained. Minor stain in top corner of leaves A-A6. Tiny pinhole through the first 100 pp. Stain in corner of 2K2-2K6 (pp. 332-336). Tear in top quarter of leaf 2V5. Small worm galley in inner margin of 3C6-3E6. Faded stain in outer margin of 3Q2-3S4. Final 10 leaves slightly more stained in the margins but still good. Final pages worn and stained but without loss of printed contents.


Asia in the Making of Europe: A century of wonder. University of Chicago Press, 1977.

Bain, The Mattioli Woodblocks (1989).

Bridson-Wendel, Printmaking in the Service of Botany.

Heilmann p. 262.

Hunt 91.

Nissen, Botanische Buchillustration (2. Aufl.) 1310.

Pritzel (2nd) 5989.

VD16 XL123.

Not in Wellcome.

For Clutius-Clusius correspondence see:

Letter from Letter from Clutius, Theodorus to Clusius, Carolus, 1593-07-15, in: Esther van Gelder (ed.), Clusius correspondence. A digital edition-in-progress. 1st release: December 2015. The Hague: Huygens ING. (accessed: 9 April 2024).

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