We are pleased to offer fine copperplate engravings from Giovanni Battista Ferrari's masterpiece Hesperides sive de Malorum Aureorum cultura et usu Libri Quatuor. This work of citrus, published in Rome in 1646, is regarded as one of the most splendid, scientifically precise, and decorative botanical works of seventeenth-century Europe as well as the first scholarly work to describe the varieties of oranges, lemons, and limes.
Ferrari was born in Sienna in 1583 and entered the Jesuit Order in Rome in 1602. As Horticultural Advisor to the Papal family he was appointed to manage the newly formed garden at the Barberini Palace in Rome. The famed Barberini garden displayed recently discovered plants from voyages of trade and discovery. Rare plants from America, Asia, and Africa were all cultivated, showcased, and named at this important Italian garden. This treatise on citrus included many varieties of rare plants and recorded the elaborately-detailed planting, training, and housing methods. Hesperides reflected the growing interest in seventeenth-century orangeries, the forerunner of the greenhouse. Orangeries were needed to keep delicate trees alive during the cold Northern European winters and the hot Italian summers.
Hesperides sive de Malorum Aureorum cultura is considered one of Ferrari's greatest achievements. The collaboration of one of Rome's leading scholars and patrons dedicated to the establishment of extensive precise taxonomic data relating to citrus resulted in an important scholarly work with eighty brilliantly engraved botanical citrus plates, composed round and in section, by the foremost artists and engravers of the period: Cornelius Bloemaert, Pietro da Cortona, Andrea Sacchi, Nicolas Poussin, and Guido Reni all contributed to this masterpiece of science and art.
The main theme of this work was the comparison of the mythical garden of the Hesperides with the development of the "Golden Age" of the Italian garden which coincided with the reign of the Barberini family.