Polish Botanical Studies GUIDEBOOK SERIES - No 20 (1998) 


Studies in Renaissance Botany

(publikacja w jęz. angielskim)

Instytut Botaniki im. W. Szafera PAN, Kraków

PL-ISSN:08670749 PL-ISBN:8385444610

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The development of botany during the Renaissance (16th and the beginning of the 17th century) has long attracted interest from both the biologists and the historians. The rich base of handwritten, printed, and iconographic materials and herbaria (the oldest known) preserved until today, is of a great value not onły from historical point of view. They contain the first written and iconographic data about the European vegetation which has undergone irreversible changes during the centuries. One can also find there information valuable for the history of plant nomenclature and for ethnobotany. These materials have so far been studied only to a very limited extent. Most of the classical works on Renaissance botany datę back from the last century, and they do not include information about numerous botanical publications from Central Europe (eg Poland). It is also worth emphasizing that the studies focusing on the period during which the empirical methods in biology were initiated, are important for both philosophy and metho-dology of science.

The idea of preparing this volume emerged during informal conversations among some authors participating in two international meetings, namely the 19th International Congress of History of Science (Zaragoza, Spain, 1993) and the International Symposium to Celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Botanic Garden of Padua (Padua, Italy, 1995). The main purpose of the volume is to present the topics of the ongoing research projects dealing with Renaissance botany. The projects represent diverse approaches, which is, in part, due to the diversity of the materials preserved in various countries.

The overview of the latest literature and topics of potential interest for modern science is presented in the chapter by A. Zemanek (Poland) Renaissance botany and modern science. Barbara Kuźnicka (Poland) presents one of the key issues which is the stimulating role of art in the development of descriptive botany and biological illustration (The union of science and art in the Renaissance - at the sources of modern botany). The pioneering ecological ideas introduced by Italian botanists are discussed by A. Savoia (Italy) in the paper Environmental approach in the botany of the 16th century. Botanic gardens had at that time an important function as centres of education and plant acclimatization. Ulrich von Rath (Germany) describes the design of the Botanic Garden at Montpellier which had then novel exhibits of some plant groups (eg of aquatic, mountain and sand species). Among the botanists of the Renaissance presented is: Pietro Andrea Mattioli, the famous Italian herbalist (Sara Ferri, Italy). One can learn about the work of Carolus Clusius, one of the greatest botanists of his time, from the paper by Luis Ramón-Laca (Spain). He studied the correspondence of Clusius with Spanish doctors, which contained the names of plants from the Mediterranean area and from America. One of the largest in the world collections of the Renaissance illustrations of plants is kept at the Jagiellonian Library (the Libri picturati series). Alicja Zemanek (Poland) and Jan de Koning (The Netherlands) present the research perspectives which may result from the detailed analysis of this collection, almost never studied to date.

Strictly botanical topics are supplemented by papers devoted to the issues from the interface between science and art. Andrzej Jankun (Poland) describes Plant images presented in the Olkusz polyptych (15th century).

'Flora' of the 16th century Flemish tapestries from Wawel Royal Castle of Cracow is the subject of the analysis by Anna Kostuch and Alicja Zemanek (Poland).

The volume is enriched by colour plates of the pictures from the collection Libri picturati and of plant motifs from the Wawel tapestries.


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