Folium Opuntiae (Indian Fig).
28.5 x 32 inches
A copper plate engraving with later hand colour published in Besler's magnificent work "Hortus Eystettensis" in Germany in 1613.
Besler (1561–1629) was both a botanist and an accomplished draughtsman. He worked for Bishop Johann Conrad von Gemmingen who became his patron for what was to become one of the most spectacular botanical works ever produced. For 16 years at the beginning of the C17th, Besler collected, collated and illustrated hundreds of different types of flowers and plants, many brought back from exotic locations around the world. He drew each specimen and then employed a team of talented engravers to transfer his designs onto copper plates. The eventual work comprised 374 different illustrations, all taken from plants to be found in the garden of Bishop Gemmingen. In many ways they remain unsurpassed to this day for their decorative quality and exuberance.