We are excited to offer these very decorative and extremely rare woodcut engravings from Aldrovandi’s exceptional volume on fishes, whales and sea monsters, “De Piscibus libri V”, published in Bologna, Italy, in 1638. With fine later handcolouring.

Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) was a highly celebrated professor of natural history at the University of Bologna, and one of the world’s great encyclopedists who devoted his life, and his money, to lecturing, collecting specimens and writing and illustrating numerous treatises on biological and zoological subjects.

“If I wanted to describe the variety of fish observed, depicted and dried by me, that can be seen by everyone in our microcosm, truly it would be necessary to consume many pages to simply name them.” Ulisse Aldrovandi

For this great work, Aldrovandi copied illustrations from the key Renaissance fish authors, Belon, Rondelet, Salviani, and his one-time tutor, Conrad Gesner.  He also added his own unique and sometimes fanciful illustrations of species mainly from the seas of the Mediterranean, including the Adriatic, and others from more distant shores.

Aldrovandi, a self-confessed beach-comber, had many friends and employed assistants who constantly scoured the fish markets, docks, and coastlines to locate new specimens to add to his collection.

These beautiful and extraordinary woodcut engravings greatly influenced succeeding illustrated zoological works and were copied extensively by such authors as Merian & Jonson.

(Ref, Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy 1996, p. 160 -77; Pietsch, Cuvier - Historical Portrait of the Progress of Ichthyology 1995, p. 46; S. Peter Dance & Geoffrey N. Swinney Classic Natural History Prints; Fish. London, 1990, p. 23-25; Wood; Vertebrate Zoology p. 184 - 185; Allen p. 403 - 405)

condition:Very good, there may be very minor imperfections expected with age, minor show through of text on verso. Copy of decorative title page included.
size:22.5 x 34.5 cm x 9 x 13 ½ inches
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