Hesperides sive de Malorum Aureorum cultura et usu. Libri Quatuor

Author: Written by Giovanni Battista Ferrari (Italian, Siena 1584–1655 Siena)

Publisher: Published by Sumptibus Hermanni Scheus , 1646

Engraver: Engraved by Cornelis Bloemaert (Dutch, Utrecht 1603–?1684 Rome)

Engraver: Engraved by Johann Friedrich Greuter (German, active Rome, ca. 1590/93–1662)

Engraver: Engraved by Camillo Cungi (Italian, ca. 1597–1649 (active Rome and Genoa),)

Designer: Designed by Guido Reni (Italian, Bologna 1575–1642 Bologna)

Designer: Designed by Francesco Albani (Italian, Bologna 1578–1660 Bologna)

Designer: Designed by Andrea Sacchi (Italian, Rome (?) ca. 1599–1661 Rome)

Designer: Designed by Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594–1665 Rome)

Designer: Designed by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (Italian, Viterbo ca. 1610–1662 Viterbo)

Designer: Designed by Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri) (Italian, Bologna 1581–1641 Naples)

Designer: Designed by Giovanni Lanfranco (Italian, Parma 1582–1647 Rome)

Designer: Designed by Dominique Barrière (French, Marseille 1610–1678)

Draftsman: Drawn by François Perrier (French, Saint-Jean-du-Losne/Mâcon 1584–1650 Paris)

Draftsman: Drawn by Filippo Gagliardi (Italian, born Rome, died 1659)

Engraver: Engraved by Claude Goyrand (French, Sens 1620–1662 Paris)

Draftsman: Drawn by Pietro Paolo Ubaldino (Italian, active 17th century)

Published in: Rome

Date: 1646

Medium: plates: etching, engraving

Dimensions: Overall: 13 3/4 x 9 1/2 x 1 15/16 in. (35 x 24.2 x 5 cm)

Classification: Books

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1967

Accession Number: 67.828


This book on citrus fruit by Giovanni Battista Ferrari (1584–1655), published in Rome in 1646, belongs to one of the most splendid and scientifically precise botanical works of seventeenth-century Europe. Its illustrations, etched by Cornelis Bloemaert, were designed by the foremost artists of the day, including Nicolas Poussin and Guido Reni. The book reflects the author's own interest in gardening and collecting exotic plants, a pursuit facilitated by his position as Jesuit man-of-letters in the circle of scholars and natural scientists at the papal court. In fact, his first book, De florum cultura, published in Rome in 1633, was dedicated to Cardinal Barberini, and depicted exotic plants from the Barberini garden. Ferrari subsequently turned from flowers to the study of citrus fruits, publishing what is the first scholarly work describing the orange, lime, lemon, and their varieties. The publication of his book coincided with the growing interest in and structural sophistication of seventeenth-century orangeries, forerunners of greenhouses, needed to keep the delicate trees protected from the cold of Northern Europe or heat of Italian summers.
As the title of the book indicates, the central theme is the mythical garden of the Hesperides, comparing it with the contemporary flowering of the Italian garden during the 'Golden Age' of the Barberini reign. The print shown here is made after a drawing by Guido Reni, depicting allegorical figures representing the Hesperides themselves and several gardeners planting trees and tending the orangerie garden.