([Regensburg: 1735-45]). Platemarks measuring approximately 335 x 210 mm. (13 x 8 1/4") on sheets of varying sizes, the 23 regular plates about 460 x 295 mm. (18 x 11 5/8"); the four Large Paper engravings about 503 x 355 mm. (19 3/4 x 13 5/8").
Colored by a contemporary hand, 23 of normal size (including one double page), and four from a Large Paper Copy. (The catmint plate is represented twice--one of regular size, and one on Large Paper). Sitwell, p. 151. ◆A "regular" plate (though the one double-page plate in the group) split into two along the fold, a couple other plates with small tears or light browning to margins, otherwise only trivial defects.
These plates come from one of the most impressive botanical books of the period, a four-volume work with 1,025 engravings produced over a period of more than a decade. Sitwell says that the book was "perhaps the most notable example" of fine German natural history productions during the first half of the 18th century. Weinmann (1683-1741) was an apothecary from Regensburg whose success in business funded his interest in botany. He created a botanical garden there, and the present work—a comprehensive iconography of all the flowers, fruit, and vegetables in cultivation in early 18th century Europe—is based on his collection of plants. To illustrate it, he hired the brilliant young botanical artist Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70), who, in his inexperience, agreed to terms highly unfavorable to himself. Disgusted with the miserly pay, Ehret wound up leaving the project after completing 500 designs, and his pivotal contribution to the work is nowhere acknowledged in the publication. The plates made an enormous impact on other artists, botanists, and printers, inspiring, among others, Christoph Trew, who saw his "Plantae Selectae" as an extension of Weinmann's work. The "Phytanthoza" text was written by Johann Georg Nicolaus Dieterichs (1681-1737) and his son Ludwig Michael Dieterichs (1716-47). Ambrosius Karl Bieler (1693-1747) supervised the project after Weinmann's death. Hunt tells us that "the mezzotint process used [in "Phytanthoza"] . . . had been invented by Johann Teyler in the Netherlands around 1688. As practiced here by Bartholomaeus Seuter (1678-1754) and Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767), it was really a combination of etching and mezzotint, which made possible delicate lines and a very fine grain. The addition of hand-tinting brought about unusual and subtle effects. Some of the best work was done in later volumes by Johann Jakob Haid (1704-67)." The plants represented in the collection include: acacia, amaranth, ammi, angelica, bindweed, catmint, chickweeds, cocculi, giant reed, hart's tongue fern, heath, horseradish, knotweeds, marsh mallow, mugwort, oats, pimpinella, rosemary, Sedum "Africanum monstrosum" (the double-page plate), Solomon's seals, spurge, St. Peter's wort, sumac, and teasel, as well as two plates devoted to different species of marine coral. (We bought these plates at auction as part of a large group of single engravings.). (ST7597)