Series: The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo, Series B: Natural History Volume: 2
By: David Pegler and David Freedberg
1028 pages, 901 colour & 24 b/w illustrations
These three volumes catalogue the extensive corpus of mycological drawings in the Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo. Executed mostly in watercolour between 1625 and 1630 and depicting fungi native to Umbria and the environs of Rome, they constitute the first sustained attempt to survey all the larger fungi of a region, recording in detail the stages of their growth. Laden with notes on colour, smell, taste, weight, season and the locality in which the specimens had been found, the almost six hundred folios were commissioned by Federico Cesi (1585-1630), founder of Europe's first scientific academy, the Accademia dei Lincei. They were acquired by Cassiano dal Pozzo after Cesi's death and were greatly admired by those who saw them in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Thought to have been lost until their rediscovery in the 1980s in the library of the Institut de France in Paris, the drawings are also remarkable for their pioneering use of the microscope, a novel instrument given to Cesi in 1624 by Galileo and used throughout the pages of these manuscripts to enhance the direct observation of nature. Also included are drawings of fungi commissioned by Cassiano and his brother Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo now in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, and an early set of copies of the Cesi originals in the library of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Each drawing is reproduced in colour with accompanying text, and two introductory essays discuss the scientific investigations and collecting activities of Cesi and Cassiano and the importance of these drawings in the history of science and art.
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