20 Exquisite 16th Century Watercolors of Medicinal Plants

16th Century Water Colors of Medicinal Plants
Medicinal plants by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

These wonderful full-page watercolor illustrations are from a 16th-century edition of Pedanius Dioscorides’s work on herbal medicine, De Materia Medica. Dioscorides (ca. 40–90 AD), a Greek physician and botanist, is considered to be the father of pharmacology. With this five-volume book, he was hailed as the forerunner of modern pharmacopoeias – books that record medicines along with their effects and directions for their use.

The book was translated from the original Greek to Latin, Arabic, and Spanish, and continued to be in use with additions and commentaries written by various authors, one of who whom was the 16th century Italian doctor Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501–1577). Describing one hundred new plants not included by Dioscorides, Mattioli’s expansion of the book first appeared in Italian and was later translated into Latin, French, Czech, and German.

These illustrations, found in Mattioli’s version of the book, are dated between 1564–1584 and are the creation of the Italian artist and botanist Gherardo Cibo (1512–1600). The images, in which the plants take center stage before a landscaped backdrop, seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to the images found in Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora.

1. Crocus Sativus

Crocus sativus water color
Crocus sativus by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

2. Origanum

Origanum water color
Origanum by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

3. Fumaria

Fumaria water color
Fumaria by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

4. Viola Odorata

Viola odorata water color
Viola odorata by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

5. Olea Europaea

Olea europaea water color
Olea europaea by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

6. Callystegia Soldanella

Callystegia soldanella water color
Callystegia soldanella by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

7. Iris

Iris water color
Iris by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

8. Phyllitis Hemionitis

Phyllitis hemionitis water color
Phyllitis hemionitis by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

9. Gladiolus Italicus

Gladiolus Italicus water color
Gladiolus Italicus by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

10. Mercurialis Annua

Mercurialis annua water color
Mercurialis annua by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

11. Plantago Maior

Plantago maior water color
Plantago maior by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

12. Abronia Arenaria and Solidago Virga-Aurea

Abronia arenaria and Solidago virga-aurea water color
Abronia arenaria and Solidago virga-aurea by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

13. Daphnoides

Daphnoides water color
Daphnoides by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

14. Galanthus and Ipheion

Galanthus and Ipheion
Galanthus and Ipheion by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

15. Asplenium Scolopendrium

Asplenium scolopendrium water color
Asplenium scolopendrium by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

16. Asarum Europaeum

Asarum europaeum water color
Asarum europaeum by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

17. Helleboris Viridis

Helleboris viridis water color
Helleboris viridis by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

18. Euphrasia Officinalis

Euphrasia officinalis water color
Euphrasia officinalis by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

19. Paeonia Mascula

Paeonia mascula
Paeonia mascula by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

20. Polygonatum

Polygonatum water color
Polygonatum by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584. by Gherardo Cibo, ca. 1564–1584.

This article was previously published in The Public Domain Review under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. You can view the original article here.

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