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BRUNFELS E FUCHS: L'ILLUSTRAZIONE BOTANICA QUALE RITRATTO DELLA SINGOLA PIANTA O IMMAGINE DELLA SPECIE

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<title> SUMMARY </title>This essay examines the two most important illustrated herbals of the 16th century: the Herbarum vivae eicones (1530-32) by O. Brunfels and the De historia stirpium (1542) by L. Fuchs. Because a consistent and efficient method in taxonomy and nomenclature was not available at that time, the pictures of these volumes function as means for recognizing and identifying plants, rather than classifying them. The two works, therefore, try to solve problems similar to those addressed by today's field guides, and they do so with analogous visual strategies. Their pictures exemplify two distinct options available to naturalistic illustration: portraying an individual subject with its accidental characteristics and representing 'synthetically' an ideal type, the latter being dominant in the subsequent history of biological knowledge. This essay analizes the theoretical implications of both choices, and the relationship between the formal and stylistic features of images and the information conveyed by them. Furthermore, it also studies the interaction between text and figures of the two herbals and the reasons put forward in the Renaissance to defend or censure botanical illustration

Affiliations: 1: Università di Ferrara

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/content/journals/10.1163/182539103x00026
2003-01-01
2016-12-09

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