Bonelli (1772)

Giorgio Bonelli


In 1772 we come to an Italian work that is more impressive for its size that for the quality of its illustrations. It is Hortus Romanus, edited first by Giorgio Bonelli and later by Niccola Martelli (1735-1829). Published in Rome from 1772 to 1784, it contains several hundred hand-coloured plates in its seven outsize volumes, each painting placed in an upright rectangle outlined by a pale blue border.

The work is mainly a picture-book, the Latin descriptions of the plants being fairly brief notes on their medicinal virtues. Many of the illustrations tend to be somewhat lacking in refinement, and much of the foliage is too heavily dark green. Some, however, are very well done, among the most attractive being those of the Nigella arvensis, Glaucoium luteum, Granadilla indicans, Opuntia major, Ononis spinosa, and Gentia alpine. C.Ubertini did the drawings and Maddalena Bouchard many of the engravings. A charming vignette of the garden adorns the title pages. The image shown here is of a member of the genus solanum.