For over 300 years, the Preussische Staatsbibliothek in Berlin held a most remarkable collection of botanical watercolours. They were catalogued as part of the library's illustrated manuscripts, or Libri Picturati. These magnificent works of art, rich in colour and detail, were made in the second half of the 16th century in the southern part of the Low Countries. During World War II, however, they were split among various locations. For three decades, experts feared for the fate of this invaluable collection.
In the 1970s, word was received from the Biblioteka Jagiellonska in Krakow, Poland: the complete set of watercolours had been found among its collections. This important rediscovery sparked the interest of historians, art historians and botanists alike. Together they set out to unravel the many secrets still held by the Libri Picturati 's watercolours. For instance, who had collected them, and why? Were they made as one collection? What happened to them since the death of their first owner? How had they ended up in Berlin, and then in Krakow?
A team of pre-eminent scientists from Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Italy worked together on these and other intriguing questions surrounding the collection. They unveiled, among other things, the important role played by the famous Dutch botanist Carolus Clusius, who later founded the University of Leiden 's Botanical Gardens.
The European experts now present their findings in Drawn After nature. This book contains accessible and informative chapters on the collection's history, but most importantly: it brings together all of the original 1429 watercolours and sketches, for the first time in one volume, accompanied by their original annotations.
Drawn after nature thus presents a vivid and complete picture of this unique historical collection. Botanists, art lovers, historians as well as the general public will enjoy this publication of the watercolours, their annotations and their history, but above all their supreme beauty and display of craftsmanship.