Giovanni Battista Ferrari

Giovanni Battista Ferrari. Hesperides, sive, De malorum aureorum cultura et usu libri quatuor. Rome, 1646.

Giovanni Battista Ferrari. Hesperides, sive, De malorum aureorum cultura et usu libri quatuor. Rome, 1646.

Giovanni Battista Ferrari (1584-1655) was a Jesuit professor who taught Hebrew in a seminary in Rome, where he cultivated an interest in gardening. His Hesperides is the first book completely devoted to the cultivation of citrus fruits which, like the tulip, became a seventeenth-century horticultural mania. 

Hesperides is a splendid example of baroque book production to which Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) contributed designs. The work is illustrated mainly by Dutch printmaker Cornelis Bloemaert (1603-1692) whose nuanced approach to depicting gradations of light and shadow influenced later engravers. The book begins with Hercules hunting golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides, the daughters of Hesperus (or Night) who, with the help of a dragon, defended the garden in the far west of the known world. The theft of the apples was the last of Hercules' twelve labours before joining the gods.

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