Common Medlar. Munting botanical engraving 1696.

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A large copperplate engraving from the first edition of  Munting’s Naauwkeurige.                                     

Abraham Munting (1626-1683) was professor of botany at the University of Groningen, and took over and enlarged the botanic garden founded by his father Henricus. It was known as the ‘Paradise of Groningen’ and became one of the most famous gardens of its time. Botanical colleagues sent him seeds of numerous exotic plants from the Dutch East and West Indies, South Africa, the Americas, etc. His posthumously published opus magnum, the Naauwkeurige, enjoyed particular success, at least in part due to the novelty of the plates, which in a radical departure from the iconography of the traditional florilegium, presented its plant species against a charming series of landscape backgrounds. The illustrations are remarkable for their elegance and originality. The plant dominates the foreground, filling the entire page. In some cases the plants are presented à trompe l’oeil, while in others they are depicted against a background of classic or pastoral landscapes, often floating in midair with little regard for perspective and relative sizes.  The latin name of each plant appears written on an elegantly fluttering banderole or cartouche.

Recto:   Common Medlar,  Chamae Mespilus Alpina.  Plate 54.  Depicted à trompe l’oeil, in a delightful pastoral scene with a horse-drawn coach.

Verso: Blank.

Printer:  Pieter van der Aa & Francois Halma, Leyden & Utrecht, Netherlands: 1696.

Title: Naauwkeurige Beschryving der Aaardgewassen  .(Accurate Description of Terrestrial Plants).

Condition: This plate is in excellent condition, sharply printed and with just slight edge browning. It is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Notes:  Medlar has been cultivated for thousands of years and was an important fruit plant in ancient Greece and Rome. Before sugar became a bulk commodity around 1500 AD, medlar provided a welcome sweet treat during the fall and winter months.

References to the fruit can be found in the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, de Cervantes, and more. Many of these are quite bawdy and unflattering and stem from the fact that the fruit has an odd, puckered shape reminiscent of a certain body part. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare refers to medlar as “open arse.” Indeed, the French common name for medlar is cul de chien, which translates to “dog’s backside.”

Size:   Leaf: approx. 350x295mm.  Plate mark: approx. 320x210  mm. Please note that postage is invoiced separately.  Australia $25. Overseas: ask for quote.

References: Hunt 386; Nissen, BBI 1428; Cat. De Belder 252; Pritzel 6556

Item No: PSE108c

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