Columna (1744)

Fabio Colonna


One of the library's curiosities was published in Florence in 1744. It contains a late sixteenth-century herbal lurking in the second part of a book that ostensibly is a study of the natural history of the lynx. At the end of Lyncei Vita by Fabius Columna (1567-1650), is Plantarum aliquot historia, illustrated by 38 drawings reproduced from Columna's Phytobasanos, published in Naples in 1592.

Wilfred Blunt, in his Art of Botanical Illustration, describes the 1592 work as the first strictly botanical book with intaglio prints from metal plates....They are executed in pure etching, with no support from the burin; small and unpretentious though they are, they have considerable charm, and the informality that is characteristic of that medium’. Surprisingly, among illustrations of herbs we suddenly come upon two plates of seafish and two of starfish. The volume was originally owned by Linnean Society.