Tournefort (1719)

Joseph Pitton Tournefort


A widely used classification of plants in the early eighteenth century was that of Joseph Pitton Tournefort (1656-1708), a native of Provence who became a botany professor at Paris in 1683. His system appeared in 1694 under the title Institutiones rei herbariae. Of this important work the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives has the third edition, published in Paris in 1719, and comprising three volumes, the first containing the Latin text, the other two consisting of nearly 500 illustrations. Not showing whole plants, they concentrate on the details of the flowers, fruits and other parts. They were drawn by an illustrator of genius, Claude Aubriet, and their clarity and accuracy played a vital part in the success of this famous work which dominated botanical thinking until it was superseded by the system of Linnaeus. The Roderic Bowen also has two copies of Tournefort’s Voyage into the Levant, published in 1718, which includes descriptions of Turkish plants.