Jacquin (1764)

Nicolaus Joseph van Jacquin


By the date of our next illustrated plant book the system of Linnaeus was getting established and binominal Latin names were in wide use. Nicolaus Joseph von Jacquin (1727-1817), a Dutchman who had gone to Vienna to seek his fortune, had become a prolific author of lavishly illustrated botanical works.

He was in charge of Vienna’s Schonbrunn botanic gardens which, under his guidance, became the most famous of that time, being stocked with exotic new species from America and elsewhere. His volume in the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives, a first edition ofObersavationum Botanicarum, is illustrated by Jacquin’s own drawings and deals with species newly discovered or previously imperfectly described, or not before illustrated.

Published in Vienna, there are four parts, all in one volume, dated 1764-71. The title page, shown here, depicts two sailing ships landing on a romantic foreign shore, presumably to collect new species, as Jacquin himself had done as a young man when he went to the West Indies and Central America. In this book we find far fewer concessions to art than in Sheldrake’s work. Jacquin’s drawings put botanical accuracy first, and some are rather stiff and severe.