Herbolaire Estense

Herbolaire Estense o Grant Herbier

Facsimile Edition

Est. 28 = alfa M. 5. 9

Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena (Italy)

Limited Edition: 299 + 25 copies


This is the most refined of the two Herbaria written in the 15th Century, and preserved in the Biblioteca Estense
Universitaria of Modena (the other one being the Tractatus de Herbis).

Composed in ancient French with a fascinating Gothic script (bastarda or letter bâtarde), the manuscript describes more
than 500 plants and animals. It’s closely related to the work of Pedanius Dioscorides, active in the 1st century, and to the
scientific production of the Schola Medica Salernitana, which worked on the consolidation of the Greek, Latin and Arabic
schools of medicine in the 12th century.
The manuscript, produced around 1470, has been a part of the collection of the Biblioteca Estense in Modena since the
second half of the 18th century. It’s bound with the leather cover typical of the period during which Girolamo Tiraboschi
was director of the library.
The author organizes the manuscript in alphabetical order (based on the first letter of the name of the plant) and
accompanies each text with the depiction of the plant.
The richness of this Codex is proof that it was made for the most illustrious people of the time. The miniatures, all made
by a single artist, are very realistic, especially those depicting the herbs. The medical plants and remedies discussed by the
author are more or less 500. The pages are richly illuminated, and are decorated in gold 23ct. There are many images of
plants, herbs, flowers, animals, and farm scenes. The manuscript contains 391 images: 355 are of plants, flowers, and roots;
26 are of animals or minerals; and 10 are illuminated scenes of natural life.
In the catalog of the Biblioteca Estense, the manuscript is described as “DE URFE. Dictionarium Gallicum herbarium cum
herbs elegantissime expressos, litterisque versicoloribus, auroque ut plurimum intextis. In quo herbarium virtues, atque ut in
extreme opera dicitur secret salernitana continentur”. D’Urfé appears among the owners of the book.
The name “Jehan Duboys” appears in first pages of the manuscript: he was probably the copyist, but he also added a
number of comments to the text during its replication.
The manuscript is probably derived from the British Library Egerton MS 747 (Otto Pächt).
Binding description: Brown leather binding. On the spine, the title “Dictionar gallicum Herbarum” is blind-tooled in

Caratteristiche Tecniche

  • Formato cm. 20 x 28.
  • 340 pagine riccamente miniate e dorate in oro a 23ct, con immagini a profusione di piante, erbe, fiori, animali e scene di lavoro agricolo.
  • La legatura, particolarmente pregiata, è in pelle con riquadri a secco sui piatti mentre il dorso è arricchito dalla presenza di nervetti a rilievo e dal fregio della Biblioteca Estense realizzato in oro a caldo. Essa venne fatta realizzare sotto la direzione di Girolamo Tiraboschi.
  • Indorsatura eseguita con strumenti del ‘700, anche con recuperi di antiche carte.
  • Tiratura limitata a 499 esemplari.