Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia, iam denuo ab ipso autore recogniti, et locis plus mille aucti. Adiectis magnis, ac novis plantarum, ac animalium iconibus, supra priores editiones longe pluribus, ad vivum delineatis. Accesserunt quoque ad margines Graeci contextus quam plurimi, ex antiquissimis codicibus desumpti, qui Dioscoridis ipsius depravatam lectionem restituunt. Cum locupletissimis indicibus, tum ad rem herbariam, tum medicamentariam pertinentibus

Autore MATTIOLI, Pietro Andrea (1501-1577).
Tipografo Vincenzo Valgrisi
Dati tipografici Venezia, 
Prezzo 13800.00
Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia

THE FIRST LATIN EDITION ILLUSTRATED WITH THE NEWLY CUT SET OF LARGE WOODCUTS

Folio (360x242 mm). [172], 1459, [13] pp. Collation: *6, **8, A-M6, 2A-Z6, Aa-Zz6, Aaa-Zzz6, Aaaa-Zzzz6, Aaaaa-Zzzzz6, Aaaaaa- Ffffff6, Gggggg4, Hhhhhh6. Roman, italic, and Greek type. Woodcut printer's devices on title page and fols. Gggggg4v and Hhhhhh6v. Full-page woodcut portrait of Mattioli set within elaborate strapwork border with cartouche and flanking figures on verso of fol. M6. Over 900 large woodcuts of plants, herbs, animals, insects, and distillation processes, most of them by Giorgio Liberale and Wolfgang Meyerpeck, the majority filling three quarters of the page. The last quire contains the De ratione distillandi aquas ex omnibus plantis. On leaves Gggggg4v and Hhhhhh6v the later ownership entry (17th-18th century) of a certain Dominque de la Roche and stamp from the library of the Academia literaria Rothomagensis (Literary Academy of Rouen), which probably received the book from De la Roche himself, as he was one of its members (the stamp alone is also repeated on l. A1r). Contemporary (French?) full leather over wooden boards, gilt spine with seven raised bands, panels with elaborate gilt border and a large gilt fleuron in the centre (binding severely, but skilfully restored). Some staining to the last quire, light marginal damp stains affecting some leaves, stronger damp stain to the quires I to M of the first sequence, round worm holes to the lower blank margin of the preliminary leaves not affecting text, worm track to the first 12 leaves slightly affecting the text, title page a bit soiled. A very good, genuine copy with wide margins.

THE FIRST LATIN EDITION ILLUSTRATED WITH THE NEWLY CUT SET OF LARGE WOODCUTS. The first edition of Mattioli's celebrated commentary on Dioscorides' De materia medica – the most significant botanical book of antiquity and the most authoritative source on medical botany during the Renaissance – first appeared in the Italian language in Venice in 1544 as an unillustrated edition titled Di Pedacio Dioscoride Anazarbeo Libri cinque della historia et materia medicinale. The publishing initiative was met with immediate success, and unauthorised editions soon followed, including that of 1549, printed in Mantua. The event led Mattioli to produce an expanded Latin edition of his work, which was issued in 1554 by the Venetian printer Vincenzo Valgrisi and included new information on herbs and plants, along with the first appearance of small woodcuts that would assist in the reading and studying of the text.

Mattioli dedicated his work to Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg, who named him personal physician of his son Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria. Mattioli moved to Prague in 1555, and this high patronage allowed him to employ a number of artists and engravers to produce nearly full-page illustrations for his Dioscorides. The Venetian Commentarii of 1565 is thus the first edition to contain – along with the small woodcuts that first appeared in 1554 – over 600 nearly full-page illustrations designed by the Italian artist Giorgio Liberale, who was also active at the Imperial court, and cut by Wolfgang Meyerpeck, a leading printer and block cutter from Meissen. These woodcuts are considered to be among the most impressive illustrations of natural history. They appear primarily in the Czech edition printed in Prague in 1562, as well as the subsequent German edition, likewise issued in Prague in 1563 by Jiri Melantrich in partnership with Vincenzo Valgrisi. These large woodcuts are “the culmination of technical virtuosity in botanical woodcut design, being images of considerable size and unprecedented complexity [...] morphologically detailed and carefully shaded images whose style contrasts notably with the airy, simple elegance of Fuchs' illustrations. Apart from the close massing of foliage, fruit, and flower, such details as veins and even hairs are often depicted or suggested with great skill” (Bridson-Wendel, Printmaking in the Service of Botany, no. 5).

The 1565 Latin edition published by Valgrisi is also the first to be supplemented, in the last quire, with Mattioli's De ratione distillandi aquas ex omnibus plantis, and it contains a number of additional zoological and genre illustrations not included in the previous editions of Mattioli's masterpiece.

C. Nissen, Die botanische Buchillustration, Stuttgart, 1966, 1305; G.A. Pritzel, Thesaurus literaturae botanicae, Milano, 1950, no. 5985; Edit 16, CNCE39013; A. Arber, Herbals their Origin and Evolution, Cambridge, 1912, pp. 79-85 and 186-190; D.S.B., IX, pp. 178-180; Adams, D-672; Hunt, 94; Bridson-Wendel, Printmaking in the Service of Botany, Pittsburgh 1986, no. 5.

  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia
  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia
  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia
  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia
  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia
  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia
  • Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia