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I discorsi di P.A. Mattioli. L’esemplare dipinto da Gherardo Cibo: eccellenza di arte e scienza del Cinquecento

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A masterpiece of medical-botanical literature, enriched by the colours and miniatures of a great master.

Aboca Editions presents the reproduction of the Discourses by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, in the famous large print version published by Valgrisi in Venice in 1568. The specimen used by Aboca, now held at the Alessandrina Library in Rome, is renowned for the magnificent decorations by Gherardo Cibo, who, in addition to colouring the engraving, completed the background with evocative landscapes produced by his fertile imagination.

From the comment by Flavia Cristiano: "This edition offers us, in all the extraordinary beauty of its artistic accompaniment, a text that documents the path of science and of human thought; a volume that, even if printed in many copies, constitutes, in its individuality, a unique and inimitable work of art; the piece of a story that connects a famous botanist, a painter with a love of botany, an erudite prince and a bibliophile pope, protagonists of an adventure that is more fascinating than a novel: an emblematic example of the irreplaceable importance of a research that uncovers the layers of the past and brings us back our history through the immediate and timeless allure of beauty".

Furthermore, this is how Mattioli expressed himself concerning Cibo's art and, in particular, his botanical illustrations, in a letter dated 24 June 1565: "It really seems to me that they are so alive and natural, that one could not ask for anything better; and most importantly that one can perceive an elegance afforded to them by the decoration with pleasant village landscapes that cannot be felt in the presence of natural images alone. For this reason I tell you that even though I have received coloured drawings of plants from many different places, there is such a difference between these and the former, as one can see between lead and silver or, even better, between lead and gold" (Siena Municipal Library, cod.  miscell. D, vii, 2. c. 15 r.).

The two volumes containing the reproduction of the Discourses are accompanied by a commentary volume, examining the importance of Mattioli's work in the history of modern botany and pharmacy, the changes of ownership of the volume decorated by Gherardo Cibo, the biographies of Mattioli, Cibo and Giorgio Liberale da Udine, author of the xylographs printed in 1568 and the history of Valgrisi's typography.

Aboca's facsimiles for professional use: seminal works accessible to everybody. Legendary editions and splendid manuscripts, selected from libraries around the world, have been reproduced using cutting edge printing techniques and accompanied by vast and accurate critical apparati.


Foreword by Valentino Mercati.

Edited by Duilio Contin and Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi.

Contributions by Flavia Cristiano, Enrica Lozzi, Duilio Contin, Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi, Giorgio Mangani, Paolo Santini, Piera Medeghini Bonatti, Ilaria Andreoli, Marco Bresadola.

Further information

The Discourses by Pietro Andrea Mattioli with the miniatures and watercolours by Gherardo Cibo was conceived for the personal library of Francesco Maria II Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. After his death in 1631, according to his will, the volume, together with other print books, was passed onto the Caracciolini convent in Casteldurante. From there, with deed dated 22 December 1666, it was transferred to the halls of what in the space of a few months would become the Alessandrina Library of Rome, where today it is registered by shelf mark Rari 280.


Year of publication: 2015
Size: 25 x 35.8
Cover: Gold-printed Leatherette (heat- and dry- printed)
Package: Sewn binding
Pages: 1,728 pages divided in two volumes


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