MICHELI, Pier Antonio.. Catalogus plantarum horti caesarei florentini opus postumum.

Quarto (342 x 237mm). Half-title, title printed in red and black with engraved armorial vignette, folding engraved garden plan, 7 engraved plates, engraved vignettes and initials. Contemporary red morocco gilt, central arms gilt of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, within wide foliate borders gilt with foliate cornerpieces, spine gilt in 7 compartments. Top compartment of spine neatly restored, a very fine copy.The first edition of this monumental catalogue of plants in the Orto Botanico of Florence, the third older botanical garden in the world. A copy bound for Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, with his arms as Grand Duke of Tuscany.Also known as ‘Giardino dei Semplici', the Florentine Orto Botanico was established in 1545 by Cosimo I de' Medici, as a garden for medicinal plants. In 1718, the garden was entrusted by Cosimo III to the Società Botanica Fiorentina. Its founder and director was Pier Antonio Micheli (1679-1737), professor of botany at Pisa, who wrote ground-breaking work on the spores of mushroom and microfungi. ‘His fundamental mission was to turn botany into an autonomous scholarly pursuit – in other words, to make it independent from medicine. […] botanists – argued Micheli – had to concern themselves exclusively with plant taxonomy and nomenclature, without having to worry about the practical applications and uses of the actual specimens' (Tchikine, ‘Echoes', 105).Upon his death in 1737, he left unfinished a catalogue of the plants of the botanical garden, which, following Micheli's ideas, had been meanwhile enriched with many more, not only medicinal, rare plants, reaching 2000 specimens. His successor, Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti, revised and published it with the title Catalogus plantarum. Plants are listed alphabetically by their common Latin name, with brief information on their appearance and abbreviated bibliographical references. It includes seven engravings of plants, flowers and seeds. The main purpose of the work was to provide a detailed, scientific list of all the plants in the Orto Bortanico so as to facilitate exchanges with other such institutions.That a copy of this important work – an epitome of the Florentine botanical garden – should be bound and presented to Francis I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, reflects the ongoing problems facing the Orto Botanico in the mid-18th century. For the Dukes, it had indeed come to represent solely a major expense that brought little practical benefit. Only 35 years on, the garden was indeed dismantled to make room for an Orto Agrario, deemed of greater utility to the state, under the auspices of the Grand Duke Leopold I.WorldCat locates 18 copies in the US (LA County Arboretum, Catholic University, Oak Spring Garden Library, KU, Illinois, Minnesota, Chicago Botanic Garden, Northwestern, Hesburgh, Lloyd Library, Michigan, Cornell, JHU, NLM, Drexel, California State, UCB, UW); COPAC locates 7 in the UK (including BL, Cambridge and Oxford).Pritzel 6203; Brunet III, 1707. Not in Nissen or Hunt.Tchikine, ‘Echoes of Empire: Redefining the Botanical Garden in Eighteenth-Century Tuscany', in The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century, ed. Y. Batsaki et al. (Washington DC, 2016), 93-127.


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