4to, pp. [viii (supplied in neat eighteenth-century manuscript facsimile)], [ix-xvi], 120, 32, [8 (index)]; with 37 full-page etched illustrations by Colonna, each within a border of printer’s ornaments, extra-illustrated with an engraved portrait of the author (from La Sambuca lincea, 1618); a very good, clean copy in eighteenth-century green morocco, sides blocked with a curious unidentified design; armorial device of Tommaso Giuseppe Farsetti to foot of spine (partially lost to insect damage).
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Φυτοβασανος, sive Plantarum aliquot historia …
First edition, a landmark in botanical illustration, ‘the first strictly botanical book with intaglio prints’ (Blunt).
In search of a cure for his own epilepsy Fabio Colonna (1567–1650), a lawyer by education, turned to the study of botany, and his modest but botanically accurate illustrations, drawn and probably etched by him, are among the first botanical etchings. One of the early members of Naples’s Accademia dei Lincei, Colonna later became interested in astronomy (he corresponded with Galileo) and music, inventing a fifty-string meantone-tempered instrument.
Provenance: from the celebrated library of the Venetian poet and bibliophile Tommaso Giuseppe Farsetti (1720–1791), though apparently not listed in any of the sale catalogues of his books and manuscripts 1776-1788.
Adams C-2394; Blunt, pp. 87-89; BMC STC Italian, p. 191; Hunt 165 (37 plates); Mortimer (Italian) 130; Nissen, BBI 386 (38 plates); Pritzel 1822 (36 plates).