Commelin (1697)

Johannes Commelin


Jan Commelin (1629-1692) was the director of Amsterdam’s Physic Garden during a period in which it was being enlarged to provide space for all the new species continually arriving from the Dutch colonies in the East and West Indies and South Africa. The present work, Horti medici Amstelodamensis (1697-1701) not only describes these new introductions but also illustrates them with great panache. There are two folio volumes, the second by Jan Commelin’s nephew, Caspar Commelin (1667-1731). Although the medical uses of the plants are described when they are known, this is one of the first works to cross the divide from herbalism to botany.

Shown here is the title page of the first volume. Amsterdam is personified receiving the bounty of the four continents.