FERRARI, Giovanni Battista (1584 -1655). Hesperides sive de malorum aureorum cultura et usu. Libri quatuor. Rome: Hermann Scheus, 1646.

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Folio (13 6/8 x 9 inches). Allegorical engraved frontispiece, 101 engraved plates on 100 sheets by Cornelis Bloemaert "one of the great Dutch seventeenth-century botanical artists" (Hunt) and others. Contemporary calf elaborately decorated I blind panels (spine worn with minor loss, extremities scuffed).


Provenance: with the ownership inscription of the College of the Society of Jesus at Brussels at the head of the frontispiece, dated 1647.

First edition of the first book entirely devoted to describing and celebrating citrus fruit, and one of the most attractive of all Baroque botanical works. The 79 magnificent, bold, and detailed life-size studies of citrus fruits by Cornelis Bloemaert, shown with ribbons labeled with their specimen names, depict the plants being grown in the Baroque gardens of Rome. The other 22 engravings showing methods of cultivation, tools etc, are also by important Roman classical painters: two allegorical plates are after drawings by Nicolas Poussin (Friedlander & Blunt, "Catalogue Raisonne" II, 46), and others are after Pietro da Cortona, Francesco Albani, Guido Reni, and Andrea Sacchi. The gardens of the Villa Aldrobrandini are depicted by Filippo Gagliardi and those of the Vila Farnese by Girolamo Rainaldi. The accompanying text classifies the plants, gives details of their origin and location, methods of cultivation, and medical uses. Ferrari was born into a prosperous Sienese family in 1583 and entered the Jesuit Order in Rome in 1602. He was a Professor of Hebrew and Rhetoric at the Jesuit College in Rome, and significantly a horticultural advisor to the papal Barberini family. He a friend of the scholar Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657) who was also an advisor to the Barberini family. "Through this connection, Ferrari joined an important circle of men of science in Rome, and was appointed to manage the new garden at the Barberini Palace which was unique as a showplace for the newest and rarest plants from the distant regions of Asia, Africa, and America. The cultivation of new specimens led Ferrari to the subject of botanical nomenclature, and he became a leading 17th century source for nomenclatural definition. Ferrari's first book was a Syriac Lexicon, and he also published a series of 'Orations'-treatises on Rhetoric which emphasized good Latin usage. His last publication was a book on Sienese saints" (Missouri Botanical Garden online). However, Ferrari's greatest works were the "De Florum Cultura" (1633) and the "Hesperides sive de Malorum Aureorum cultura" (1646), as here. In this last he worked closely with Cassiano, who was intensely interested in the citrus family, he "not only corresponded extensively on the subject, he collected specimens from many quarters. In its final form, Hesperides was a collaborative work even though Cassiano's name is not included in the authorship. He was the source of much of the information for the book, while Ferrari was the editor, composer, and author; Cassiano also managed the financing of the publication. "Hesperides" is a book in four parts with the first part elaborating on the archaeological, numismatic, mythological and etymological background to citrus lore. The next three parts are about citrons, lemons, and oranges respectively. Perhaps the most notable aspect of these three sections is Ferrari's extensive and dedicated effort to establish precise taxonomic data" ((Missouri Botanical Garden online). Cleveland Herbal 206; Hunt 243; Nissen BBI 621; Oak Spring Pomona 67.