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A Woodblock’s Career

Transferring Visual Botanical Knowledge in the Early Modern Low Countries

In: Nuncius
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  • 1 Utrecht University, The Netherlands, Utrecht
Open Access

Abstract

The Antwerp publishing house Officina Plantiniana was the birthplace of many important early modern botanical treatises. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the masters of the press commissioned approximately 4,000 botanical woodblocks to print illustrations for the publications of the three Renaissance botanists – Rembert Dodoens, Carolus Clusius, and Matthias Lobelius. The woodcuts became one of the bases of early modern botanical visual culture, generating and transmitting the understanding of plants throughout the Low Countries and the rest of Europe. The physical blocks, which are preserved at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, thus offer a material perspective into the development of early modern botany. By examining the 108 woodblocks made for Dodoens’ small herbal, the Florum (1568), and the printing history of a selected few, this article shows the ways in which the use of these woodblocks impacted visual botanical knowledge transfer in the early modern period.

Abstract

The Antwerp publishing house Officina Plantiniana was the birthplace of many important early modern botanical treatises. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the masters of the press commissioned approximately 4,000 botanical woodblocks to print illustrations for the publications of the three Renaissance botanists – Rembert Dodoens, Carolus Clusius, and Matthias Lobelius. The woodcuts became one of the bases of early modern botanical visual culture, generating and transmitting the understanding of plants throughout the Low Countries and the rest of Europe. The physical blocks, which are preserved at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, thus offer a material perspective into the development of early modern botany. By examining the 108 woodblocks made for Dodoens’ small herbal, the Florum (1568), and the printing history of a selected few, this article shows the ways in which the use of these woodblocks impacted visual botanical knowledge transfer in the early modern period.

1 Introduction

In Antwerp in 1568, 108 woodblocks with images of ornamental and fragrant flowers were used for the first time to print the illustrations in the book Florum, et coronariarum odoratarumque nonnullarum herbarum historia (referred to as the 1568 Florum in this article).1 Ordered by the printer-publisher Christophe Plantin (c. 1520–1589), the woodcuts complement the text of the small herbal, which was written and compiled by the Flemish physician and botanist Rembert Dodoens (1517–1585). This octavo-size herbal, mainly describing beautiful flowers and plants giving off a pleasant smell, was one of the first collaborations between Plantin and Dodoens.2 The two individuals, along with two additional Netherlandish botanists, Carolus Clusius (1526–1609) and Matthias Lobelius (1538–1616), ushered in the new discipline of botany to the early modern Low Countries.3 The text and images in the 1568 Florum would later be reused in Dodoens’ masterwork Stirpium historiae pemptades sex (1583) (addressed as the 1583 Stirpium in this article) and its various translations and re-editions in the late sixteenth and throughout the seventeenth centuries.4 The images – printed with the same blocks – would also appear in the treatises of Clusius, Lobelius, and other contemporary botanists, whose works were mostly published by Plantin or his successors at the Officina Plantiniana (Plantin Press).

Remarkably, the 108 woodblocks that were first used in the 1568 Florum, as well as close to 4,000 botanical blocks (inventory number HB 4047-HB 8049) mostly made for the trio of botanists, are still extant at the Museum Plantin-Moretus (MPM) in Antwerp.5 The contributors who commissioned the production of this large collection of botanical woodblocks are Antwerp publishers Jan van der Loe (?–1563), Christophe Plantin, and the successors of the Officina Plantiniana who published some of the most widespread and popular botanical treatises in the early modern period.6 The books not only established the Low Countries as an important center for early modern botany, but transmitted the representations and understandings of plants throughout many parts of Europe.7 As sixteenth- and seventeenth-century botanical treatises often reproduce images from existing visual sources, many of the illustrations in the works of the three Netherlandish botanists derive their plant depictions from herbals by German botanists Otto Brunfels and Leonhart Fuchs and Italian naturalist Pietro Andrea Mattioli. Likewise, the plant depictions in the three Netherlandish botanists’ works were disseminated across Europe and were used by English and Danish authors.8 The MPM botanical woodblock collection is, therefore, noteworthy for its material preservation of the botanical visual culture in early modern Europe.

The 108 blocks from the 1568 Florum thus offer a different angle into the history of visual botanical knowledge from such a material perspective. Using the printed images, many dedicated scholars have clearly demonstrated how botany became its own discipline as a result of the publications of copiously illustrated early modern botanical books.9 What more can woodblocks bring to the table then? The blocks immediately generate several questions about their technical creation. For example, what were the tools used to make the woodblocks? Could the hands of the different cutters be identified? Such questions are worth investigating, but cannot be covered in-depth here. More implicitly, and perhaps more difficult to answer, is to what extent can these woodblocks bring further insight into the transfer of early modern plant knowledge? This object-oriented study thus explores the potential of considering woodblocks as historical evidence in understanding early modern botanical imagery. It examines the materiality of the 108 woodcuts and the botanical woodblock collection at the Museum Plantin-Moretus. This study then tracks the trajectory of the 108 blocks within the publishing history of the Plantin Press in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.10 More specifically, it follows the “career” of the block that printed the Viola matronalis (HB 4331) (Fig. 1) in the 1568 Florum to learn how the printing blocks affected the arrangement and dissemination of information.11

d78136725e256

Figure 1

Style 1, block HB 4331, 13.1 × 7.1 × 2.25 cm. (a) Recto view. (b) Verso view. (c) Printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author

2 The 108 Woodblocks of the 1568 Florum

The 1568 Florum is the second of the three small herbals that Dodoens and Plantin published in the early stage of their collaboration. Together with the first book, Frumentorum (1566, 1569), and the third Purgantium (1574), the three small herbals constitute the major content of Dodoens’ 1583 Stirpium.12 The 108 woodcuts feature original depictions of plants that appeared for the first time in a printed book.13 The volume includes common local flowers, such as violets, lilies, and roses; many sweet-smelling herbs, such as thyme and lavender; and rare flowers (particularly bulbous plants) recently introduced to the Low Countries from Asia Minor, such as tulips. The book contributed significantly to early botany by producing the first European description of the sunflower, then already popular in European gardens, which Dodoens named Chrysanthemum Perunianum to indicate its origin in Peru.14 As one of the earliest treatises concentrating on garden flowers, the book embodies the prevalent floriculture in the southern Low Countries. It also represents the beginning of modern botany by gradually moving away from the strong connection to medicine (a characteristic of the herbal tradition), as many of the plants have no clear medicinal properties.15 The 108 woodblocks that carry the plant depictions of these decorative flowers to accompany Dodoens’ descriptions were all commissioned by Plantin specifically for this project. A slightly revised reprint appeared in 1569 under the same title, but with 109 illustrations. One image from the 1568 edition was replaced, five new woodcuts were added, four were omitted.16 This means that six woodblocks were commissioned for the 1569 print job, but no related archival document of these blocks has yet been found.

The logbook of the Officina Plantiniana documents the division of labor for the production of the 108 woodblocks and the 1568 Florum.17 The making of the blocks was a collective effort that took place outside the premises of the Plantin Press. The Mechelen-based draftsman Peeter vander Borcht was paid 26 fl. 15st. on August 22, 1567, to create 107 figures for Dodoens’ book. He later received another 15 st. for an additional three figures, which makes 5 st. for every drawing; in the end, only 108 figures were turned into woodblocks. Plantin also paid an unnamed carpenter 3 fl. 15 st. to prepare at least 100 planed woodblocks on June 22, but there is no further information on the wood source of the planed blocks. The woodcutters were paid slightly more than the draftsman. The Antwerp cutter Arnold Nicolai received 7 st. apiece, but later received an extra payment of 1 fl. 15st. He delivered seventy-one blocks between July 19 and October 18, 1567, and two more at the beginning of 1568. Gerard Janssen van Kampen in Breda was paid 20 fl. to cut twenty blocks on December 27 in 1567, which would make each block a high 20 st., almost three times more per block than what Nicolai received.18 The archival entries only amount to ninety-three woodblocks. It is unclear which cutter executed the remaining fifteen blocks, but it was most likely Van Kampen.19 The cost of each block comes down to a much more reasonable 11 st. if Van Kampen cut thirty-five blocks instead of twenty. There is no record of the number of the print run. As 800 copies were printed for the 1566 Frumentorum that Plantin and Dodoens embarked upon two years before, 800 would be a sensible number for the print run of the 1568 Florum.20 The total production cost was a little over 80 fl. and each book was set at 6 st. for the sales price.21 This means that the 1568 Florum would have been a manageable investment for Plantin and its profit margin was considerably high.

At first glance, the 108 woodblocks display similar material properties. The majority of the blocks, including HB 4331, measure on average 13.1 × 7.1 × 2.25 cm, fitting into the standardized width of a column in an octavo-size book. However, there are several exceptions with smaller dimensions. The woodblocks are all cut on the plank side instead of on the end grain. Most of the images are cut almost to, if not on, the edges of the blocks. The wood for the 108 blocks are identified as pearwood (Pyrus communis L.), but specific variations are unknown.22 The use of pearwood is not surprising. Most surviving early modern woodblocks for European woodcuts are attributed as pearwood.23 Literary sources also documented pearwood as one of the most suitable woods for printmaking.24 Despite the occasional knots, pearwood planks have very even and smooth grain which easily accommodates delicate image details.25 The wood density is soft enough to enable the cutters to work with relative ease, but hard enough to endure going under a press thousands of times without breaking.26 As the term “woodcut” suggests, the blocks would have been primarily cut with a knife, but tools such as gauges, chisels, and saws could also be used to clean out larger recessed areas (the parts that are cut away) for the empty space in the background.27 The blocks are overall very dark, with some close to black, and they have slightly shiny surfaces that reflect light. The backs of the blocks are inscribed (Fig. 1). With one exception, all 108 have a pasted piece of paper with writing from later centuries, and some have numbers in seventeenth-century handwriting inscribed directly onto the blocks. Several have numbers written on or carved into their sides. The six woodblocks made for the 1569 reprint do not differ in their material properties from those made for the 1568 Florum.

When taking a closer look at the front of the blocks, however, differences in the cutting techniques start to emerge, and two distinct cutting styles can be identified (Appendix I). Block HB 4331 (Fig. 1) has a depth of around 0.3 cm in its recessed area. The upper corners of the block are chiseled or gouged away, creating a ramp from the edge of the raised area to the edge of the block (Style 1). HB 6908 (Fig. 2), on the other hand, has a deeper cut, with the recessed area measuring approximately 0.5 cm deep. The offcut area is evenly cleared out, presenting a flat, clean, and smooth surface for the background (Style 2). The back sides of both Style 1 and Style 2 have sharp and straight edges. However, “duplicates,” or woodblocks with the same plant depiction (Fig. 3 and Fig. 4), were also found in the MPM botanical woodblock collection.28 Out of the 108 woodblocks, thirty-one have two or three blocks with the same plant depiction, and three out of the six 1569 additions have duplicates. Most of the duplicates were not made by the same hands or around the same time, as they show very different material qualities and cutting techniques. Within the duplicates, two more styles were identified. Block HB 7995 (Fig. 3), for example, demonstrates that blocks assigned as Style 3 use a variation of (pear)wood with a yellow-brown or ochre hue. The blocks are thicker than Styles 1 and 2 with an average thickness of 2.4 cm. The recessed areas are smooth, but not as flat and even as Style 2. The image area of Style 3 is also close to the edges of the block, and its back side has sharp and straight edges similar to Style 1 and Style 2. Style 4 is perhaps the most out of place one by comparison. Block HB 4924 (Fig. 4) shows that Style 4 is cut on slightly thinner planks with a reddish-brown color, and is overall thinner than the other styles (with some measuring as thin as 2 cm). There are highly visible gouge marks in the recessed areas, and the space between the edge of the image area and the edge of the block is generally wider on all sides. This implies that the measurement of the block is larger than the printed image, in contrast to Styles 1 and 2 that both have a closer measurement between the block and its printed counterpart. The backside edges of blocks attributed as Style 4 are cut into shallow angles as well. The identification of the four styles will be important to understand the printing history of the blocks in section 4 of this article.

d78136725e406

Figure 2

Style 2, block HB 6908, 10.5 × 4.1 × 2.1 cm. (a) Recto view. (b) Verso view. (c) Printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author
d78136725e428

Figure 3

Style 3, block HB 7995, 11.2 × 4.15 × 2.3 cm. (a) Recto view. (b) Verso view. (c) Printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author
d78136725e450

Figure 4

Style 4, block HB 4924, 11.6 × 5.7 × 2.1 cm. (a) Recto view. (b) Verso view. (c) Printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author

3 The Growing Stock of Botanical Woodblocks at the Officina Plantiniana

Before delving into the trajectory of the 108 blocks and the career of HB 4331, it is important to have an overview of the entirety of the MPM botanical woodblock collection, as the 108 blocks would be regrouped with many of them throughout their careers.29 The 4,003 blocks from the museum collection were created over almost a century, with the majority of them commissioned by Plantin in the second half of the sixteenth century. The business records for the 1568 Florum already show that the price of one botanical block was not exorbitant, ranging between 12 st. to 17 st. for each of the 108 blocks. However, when hundreds to a couple thousands of blocks are needed for a print run of a copiously illustrated herbal, the accumulated cost of blocks can run high. It would be an investment to commission printing blocks and it could take years to assemble an extensive stock. Thus, the blocks would be important capital for the printer-publisher. Because Plantin (and his press) paid for the production of the blocks, the printer-publisher owned them in the material sense and the woodblocks have always been part of the possessions of the Officina Plantiniana.30

The contributions by Plantin began with the publication of the three small herbals, including the 1568 Florum. Over the decades, approximately 2,500 new woodblocks were made for the books of Dodoens, Clusius, and Lobelius that were published by the Officina Plantiniana before the death of Plantin. In 1580, the printer-publisher purchased 250 blocks that were cut for Lobelius’ 1571 Stirpium adversaria nova from his London colleague Thomas Purfoot.31 A year later in 1581, Plantin again purchased more than 800 woodblocks, made to illustrate Dodoens’ early botanical books, from the widow of Jan van der Loe.32 The successors of the Plantin Press added more than 350 blocks to the mix in the first half of the seventeenth century. All the contributions totaled more or less 3,900 blocks. Close to 200 of these blocks did not survive, but more than 200 duplicates are found in the collection. There are also around fifty blocks with images of plants that were not intended for the botanical treatises of the three Netherlandish botanists. Regardless, the number of close to 4,000 blocks marks one of the largest collections of botanical imagery in the early modern period and allowed the Officina Plantiniana to print numerous botanical publications during that time.

This substantial stock of woodblocks would spend over one century illustrating a total of fifty-one books that are associated with Dodoens, Clusius, and Lobelius. Following the printing of Dodoens’ large herbals by different publishers, three major periods can be identified to show how the blocks progressed through their careers. The first generation of Dodoens’ large herbal, the Cruijdeboeck (1554), which was intended to be a Dutch-language equivalent to Leonhart Fuchs’ 1542 De historia stirpium, would mark the height of the Van der Loe period (1552–1570s).33 Before the issuing of this book, Van der Loe printed smaller botanical atlases. With each atlas, he commissioned more woodblocks and accumulated his stock. The Cruijdeboeck is a collection of all the illustrations from these previous publications, but with much more textual information. The Plantin period (1560s–1590) follows a similar pattern at the beginning, publishing smaller herbals with fewer woodcuts and a smaller corpus of Dodoens’ text before all of them were compiled into the second generation, the masterpiece of the botanist’s large herbal in 1583. The 1583 Stirpium has an almost entirely different set of woodcuts and much more updated text than the 1554 edition. The strategy to make the blocks to illustrate Clusius’ works is similar, as the collation of the botanist’s complete works was not issued until 1601 and 1605.34 The 1581 Kruydtboeck of Lobelius seems to be one exception.35 Archival information is yet to be found, but more than 800 new images – presumably printed with newly made blocks – appeared in this volume.36 This far exceeds most commissions of blocks by Plantin for one project. It is during the Plantin period that the most well-known sixteenth-century botanical materials from the Low Countries, both images and text, were generated.

After the death of Plantin in 1589, his son-in-law, Jan I Moretus, took over the business in Antwerp from 1589 to 1610. Between 1610 and 1641, the Plantin Press in Antwerp would have a new master, Balthasar I Moretus. The succeeding master, Balthasar II Moretus, looked after the business from 1641 to 1674. Plantin’s other son-in-law, Franciscus Raphelengius, would be in charge of the branch in Leiden (which he had managed since 1586) until 1597 when he passed away. The sons of Raphelengius, Franciscus II and Justus Raphelengius, continued the Leiden branch until 1619.37 These successors of the Officina Plantiniana period (1590s–1640s) continued to print with the woodblocks, but primarily used them in posthumous re-editions of the three botanists’ works instead of generating new materials. It is during this period that the Plantin Press printed the famous third generation of Dodoens’ large herbal – the Cruydt-Boeck (1608, 1618, 1644), the Dutch translation of his 1583 masterpiece.38 It was also during this period that the 108 blocks, along with most of the other botanical blocks, were shipped to London on a loan to the Englishmen Adam Islip, Joice Norton, and Richard Whitakers for the English herbal of John Gerard.39 The last printing of the woodblocks was for a Danish herbal in 1647, after which the blocks went into retirement.40 The 108 blocks from the 1568 Florum were created after the Van der Loe period and their careers followed the trajectories of the Plantin and Officina Plantiniana periods. The next part will therefore focus on how the blocks were used during the two later periods.

4 Reuse, Recycle, Repeat, and Replace

To explain the “visual argument” in Leonhart Fuchs’ 1542 De historia stirpium, Sachiko Kusukawa has demonstrated how the German botanist insisted on a one-to-one correspondence between plants and their pictures. This was to disprove his opponent, Sébastien de Monteux, who discredited the use of images in botanical text. Contemporary printers often used the same image for multiple plants within a publication. For example, Christian Egenolff, who Fuchs deemed a greedy publisher, used the same woodcut for the Mercurialis and the Atriplex, and the plant name Gladiolus appears for three different images. To Fuchs, the inclusion of woodcuts in Egenolff’s publications was not intended to communicate plant knowledge, but to use images as a way to gain profit.41 Therefore, by using a lifelike and solely-designated depiction for each of the plants he described, Fuchs refuted Monteux’s dismay at the use of plant representations and set himself apart from his competitors in publishing botanical treatises. Dodoens did not seem to have such a strong intention for the same level of visual argument, but the woodcuts in his books are still crucial to fully appreciating his writings.42 The publication of the 1568 Florum generated a new visual language with the 108 blocks, as they present plant depictions which had not appeared in printed books before. Nonetheless, as soon as the 1569 second edition was under production, this visual language was no longer new.43 With one exception, which will be returned to later in this section, the 108 blocks were not altered, and the representations of plants in the specific depictions by Peeter vander Borcht are fixed. From this point onward, the 108 woodblocks present visual information of their plants in this set way.

However, while the depictions of plants are pinned, the contexts in which they reappear are not. Woodcut is a relief printing technique, which enables an image to remain the same and different at the same time. Since woodblocks can be printed using the same hand press for printing lead types, they can be arranged and rearranged with the types into a printing forme (the layout of the page).44 As Bruce T. Moran has asserted in his study, new meanings were generated in the early modern period to help revise and reshape people’s reception of the natural world by situating the images within different text.45 Moran exhibited how this was achieved through the botanical woodblocks that were first commissioned for Leonhard Thurneisser in the sixteenth century. In 1578, Thurneisser announced that he had 1,921 woodblocks containing images of foreign and domestic plants cut for his forthcoming ten-volume publication based on the ancient, Paracelsian, and magical uses of plants. The project was abandoned after the first volume, but the blocks remained.46 In the early 1650s, Thomas Panckow found 1,363 of Thurneisser’s blocks and used them to print the woodcuts in his book on the utilitarian properties of the plants. By changing the content of the text, Panckow steered the blocks away from depicting plants of curiosities and towards plants used for pragmatic functions.47 Moran’s work provides a useful model to examine the usage of the 108 blocks after their debut in the 1568 Florum. Building on the concepts of reusing and recycling, this article further identifies two additional Rs – repeating and replacing. This section thus explores the relations between the four Rs and the careers of the 108 woodblocks.

In general, the lives of the 108 woodblocks can be simplified into two stages: their making and printing. The participants of the making stage include the draftsman and the cutters. Clusius is known to have actively engaged in monitoring draftsman Vander Borcht as he drew the images for the woodblocks commissioned for his publications.48 In contrast, there is little to no indication that Dodoens was as involved in the drafting process of the 108 blocks. Once the completed blocks were delivered to the Officina Plantiniana, they entered their “career,” or the printing stage. The typesetters, pressmen, and other workers in the printshop were the hands to handle the blocks and operate the practical aspects of the printing. However, Dodoens (and perhaps Plantin to an extent) would be the mind to determine how the blocks would be used within the content of each botanical publication. The botanists’ and/or the printer-publishers’ role in using the 108 woodblocks is the major consideration for this section. It should also be clarified that the scope of this section focuses on the (re)arrangement and (re)organization of information through woodblocks, rather than the botanical knowledge generated through descriptions or depictions of plants.

The 108 blocks have different career paths. While some have identical printing histories in the books in which they reappear, many do not. The number of times they were selected to illustrate botanical treatises also varies, with some printed their images in as many as seventeen publications, whereas others were used in as few as three. Even among the blocks that have the same CV, the order of their appearances often changes from publication to publication. The trajectories of the blocks show that their placement was constantly reconsidered by the botanists to present the information that was most fitted to their need at the time of printing. Take the specific case of woodblock HB 4331 (Fig. 1) (Table 1), for example. The printing history of the block shows that it printed the plant illustration in a total of seventeen publications throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After its first print job for the 1568 Florum, HB 4331 was used again in 1569 for the re-edition of the book. The block was borrowed to illustrate three publications of Lobelius’ works in the 1570s and 1580s (and again in 1591) before it returned to its roots to print the plant depiction for Dodoens’ 1583 Stirpium. Clusius also selected HB 4331 to illustrate two editions of his Austrian flora in 1583 and again for his complete works in 1601.49 The block resumed its job in the many reprints of the third generation of Dodoens’ large herbal throughout the first half of the seventeenth century, as well as illustrated the botanical treatises of English and Danish botanists, John Gerard and Simon Paulli. The block also traveled internationally to Leiden in the Northern Provinces and to London for a handful of publications. With the many print jobs the woodblock completed in the early modern period, the worldly HB 4331 is one of the most industrious blocks among its peers from the 1568 Florum.

Table 1

Printing history of HB 4331

Publication

Page #

Plant name(s)

Author/period

Location

Generation of Dodoens’ large herbal

1568 Florum

Dodoens/Plantin

24

Antwerp

VIOLA MATRONALIS

N/A

1569 Florum

Dodoens/Plantin

24

Antwerp

VIOLA MATRONALIS

N/A

1576 Plantarum … historia

Lobelius/Plantin

175

Antwerp

VIOLA MATRONALIS / Damascena / Viola alba Tragi | Weiss winter violen

N/A

1581 Kruydtboeck

Lobelius/Plantin

398

Antwerp

Viola Matronalis / Damascena / Viola alba Tragi | Damast bloemen / Winter Violieren | Weiss Winter Violen | Violes des dames / Giroffles des Dames

N/A

1581 Plantarum … icones

Lobelius/Plantin

323

Antwerp

Viola Matronalis / Damascena

N/A

1583 Stirpium … sex

Dodoens/Plantin

161

Antwerp

Viola matronalis

Second Generation

1583 Rariorum … stirpium [I]

Clusius/Plantin

336

Antwerp

Hesperis II

N/A

1583 Rariorum … stirpium [II]

Clusius/Plantin

336

Antwerp

Hesperis II

N/A

1591 Icones stirpium

Lobelius/Officina Plantiniana

323

Antwerp

Viola Matronalis / Damascena

N/A

1601 Rariorum … historia

Clusius/Officina Plantiniana

297

Antwerp

Hesperis III

N/A

1608 Cruydt-Boeck

Dodoens/Officina Plantiniana

256

Leiden

Damas-bloemen / Mastbloemen

Third Generation

1616 Stirpium … sex

Dodoens/Officina Plantiniana

161

Antwerp

Viola matronalis

Second Generation

1618 Cruydt-Boeck

Dodoens/Officina Plantiniana

239

Leiden

Damas bloemen / Mastbloemen

Third Generation

1633 The herball

Gerard and Johnson/Islip, Norton, and Whitakers

462

London

Viola Matronalis flore purpureo, siue albo | Purple, or white Dames Violets

N/A

1636 The herball

Gerard and Johnson/Islip, Norton, and Whitakers

462

London

Viola Matronalis flore purpureo, siue albo | Purple or white Dames Violets

N/A

1644 Cruydt-Boeck

Dodoens/Officina Plantiniana

239

Antwerp

Damas-bloemen / Mast-bloemen

Third Generation

1647 Dansk Urtebog

Paulli/Officina Plantiniana

374

Antwerp

Viola matronalis

N/A

Number of uses

17

4.1 Reuse

What does “reuse, recycle, repeat, and replace” signify in the career of HB 4331, then? The act of reusing occurred through the reprints of Dodoens’ works. Dodoens’ publications mostly relied on editing and updating his previous works. Frumentorum, Florum, and Purgantium gave Dodoens the opportunities to generate new descriptions according to his own observations and studies of plants.50 However, the 1583 Stirpium is predominantly a compilation of the three small herbals instead of a volume with previously undescribed plants. The 1608 Cruydt-Boeck and its many reprints is a translation of the 1583 Stirpium into Dutch, with the content largely reflective of the botanist’s original material in Latin. This reusing of Dodoens’ existing body of text parallels the reusing of the plant images. Most of the 108 blocks, with two exceptions (HB 7775 and HB 7960), follow a similar printing history as HB 4331, and were reused to print Dodoens’ works. However, reusing both the content of Dodoens’ writings and the mostly unaltered blocks from the 1568 Florum does not simply redistribute the exact same information. Dodoens rearranged the order of plants in the large herbal and updated and expanded the text. The Dutch translations of Dodoens’ 1583 Stirpium also opened the door for the botanist’s work to reach non-Latin readers. The reusing of the blocks brought new context to each re-publication of Dodoens’ works in seemingly subtle but impactful ways.

The rearrangement of the blocks allows space to include new information and, at times, assign plants into different groupings as the botanist revised his study of plants. Broadly speaking, the majority of the 108 woodblocks from the 1568 Florum and the six additions in 1569 are incorporated into the second part of the 1583 large herbal. The sub-title of this part, De floribus, coronariis, odoratis, ac umbelliferis herbis, indicates that the main focus of this part is a similar premise of fragrant and decorative flowers, but it is more expansive than the 1568 Florum in the species included. Many of the blocks were placed in their original order, but new blocks and plant descriptions were added in between. For example, the second part of the 1583 Stirpium starts with the woodcut of Viola nigra siue purpurea, the same plant name as the 1568 Florum and also printed with HB 6938. Previously, this was immediately followed by the woodcut of Viola tricolor, printed with HB 4547; in the 1583 Stirpium, two more blocks were inserted into the forme to print the plants Viola flore multiplici (HB 6298) and Viola sylvestris inodora (HB 6299). This enlargement of content situates blocks HB 6938 and HB 4547 in a larger pool of plant depictions with similar characteristics of form and utilitarian properties, and thus broadens the understanding of the viola category. Several woodblocks, however, are out of their original order and categorized into different groupings. Blocks HB 6350, HB 6911, and HB 4115 each depicts a type of iris. Originally, in the 1568 Florum, these images follow the Asphodelus bulbosus Galeni (HB 5482). In the 1583 Stirpium, the three plants appear much later in the book with almost forty pages and seventy woodcuts between them and HB 5482. In 1568, while Dodoens organized plants according to their formal characteristics, he did not assign groups for the plants; in the 1583 Stirpium, the three blocks of irises are now under the chapter of De sylvestribus floribus, ac nonnullis aliis (of wild flowers, and some others). Moreover, the changed order for block HB 5565 for the plant Anemone (I) places the plant even further into a different category. The plant depiction is now in part three, along with other root plants, herbs, poisonous plants, ferns, moss, and mushrooms. In other words, HB 5565 and its depiction of the Anemone (I) are now placed with more utilitarian plants instead of decorative and fragrant ones. Reusing the 108 woodblocks, but in different orders, allowed Dodoens to elaborate and reconsider his understanding and interpretation of the plants he studied.

The order of the blocks and their corresponding descriptions remain more or less the same in the Dutch translation of Dodoens’ 1583 Stirpium and its several reprints. Nonetheless, the reusing of the blocks generates another type of meaning by pairing them with Dutch plant names in the 1608 Cruydt-Boeck, conceived by the publisher Franciscus II Raphelengius at the Leiden Branch after Dodoens’ death. It has been argued that translation often alters meanings, but it also enabled information and knowledge to be transferred from one place to another and thus reach a larger readership in the early modern period.51 Translating plant names, in particular, presented many difficulties.52 The first generation of Dodoens’ large herbal printed by Van der Loe in 1554 is a Dutch publication, which was translated into French in 1557 and English in 1578.53 While Dodoens significantly revised his descriptions in the three small herbals and subsequently in the 1583 Stirpium, the selections of plant species are still based on his early works. For example, in the 1554 Cruijdeboeck, the Latin name Violae Matronales is already provided next to its Dutch name Mastbloemen for the woodcut, printed with HB 7090 (Fig. 5).54 When Dodoens published the updated description for the same plant in the 1568 Florum, 1583 Stirpium, and their later reprints, the new depiction of the plant – printed with HB 4331 – took over from HB 7090 to represent the species, and the Dutch name was removed. The Mastbloemen returned in the 1608 Cruydt-Boeck, and the Latin name was dropped. Instead, another Dutch name, Damas-bloemen, was added to reveal another identity of the plant. This addition of the second Dutch name shows that the 1608 Cruydt-Boeck was not a reversal of its earlier context of the 1554 Cruijdeboeck. Rather, it reflects a change in the understanding of the plant in the Dutch language, and demonstrated that there were multiple terms to refer to the same woodcuts yielded by HB 4331 at the beginning of the seventeenth century. As this posthumous Dutch edition of Dodoens’ large herbal was pushed by the publishers with a more mass-market-oriented focus, the Dutch translation of the 1583 Stirpium made botanical knowledge approachable to the larger group of non-Latin readers outside the humanists’ circles.55 By being combined with Dutch plant names and descriptions, the reusing of the 108 woodblocks prolonged Dodoens’ relevance and transferred the most up-to-date botanical knowledge into the vernacular in the 1608 Cruydt-Boeck.

d78136725e1516

Figure 5

Block HB 7090, 12.7 × 7.1 cm. (a) Recto view. (b.) Verso view. (c.) Printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author

4.2 Recycle

The recycling of the 108 woodblocks within the Officina Plantiniana refers to the use of the blocks in the publications of Clusius and Lobelius. As Table 1 shows, HB 4331 was employed to print woodcuts for three of Clusius’ books and four of Lobelius’. Similar to the reusing of the blocks, recycling generated new contexts by rearranging and pairing the blocks with different textual information according to the visions of the botanists; however, recycling completed this goal to a much higher degree. By regrouping the blocks, the botanists developed their own systems of organization. For instance, Lobelius distinguishes different groups by characteristics of the plants’ leaves, in contrast to Dodoens’ organization by utilitarian properties, thus creating a new approach to study plants.56 Lobelius also brought the blocks into a more international context in the vernacular. His 1581 Kruydtboeck – which was already a Dutch translation of his 1576 Latin herbal, Plantarum, seu, Stirpium historia – recycled most of the 108 woodblocks.57 One significant feature of the 1581 Kruydtboeck is the extensive index of plant names in Dutch, Latin, German, French, Portuguese, and English, compiled by the botanist from different sources.58 The list of names in multiple languages is incorporated into the book to accompany almost every image. For the woodcut of HB 4331, three Latin names are provided: Viola Matronalis (referring to Dodoens’ naming of the plant), Damascena, and Viola alba Tragi, as shown in Table 1. By making reference to Dodoens, Lobelius continues the dissemination of botanical knowledge generated by this botanist. Additionally, Lobelius noted that the plant is apparently called Damast bloemen and Winter Violieren in Dutch, Weiss Winter Violen in German, and Violes des dames or Giroffles des Dames in French. These plant names in foreign languages introduced readers in the Low Countries – at the very least – to how the plant of HB 4331 was identified by people from other European regions. The recycling of the 108 woodblocks, therefore, enabled Lobelius to transfer botanical knowledge by using a new way to group plants and various means to address them.

Clusius’ recycling of the woodblocks shifted the international and geographical contexts of the blocks even more prominently. Generally speaking, the woodblocks commissioned for Clusius’ works did not engage in the printing of Dodoens’ or Lobelius’ publications very often, and vice versa, because of the botanist’s particular interest in exotic plants. Out of the 108 woodblocks, he selected fewer than half of them for his own works. Clusius’ first recycling of the blocks was in 1583 for his Austrian flora, a genre consisting of descriptions of plants growing in a designated region. For the two editions of this title, only six out of the 108 blocks – including HB 4331 – from the 1568 Florum and one from the six 1569 additions were selected to illustrate the books.59 HB 4331 is now referred to as Hesperis II and grouped with another block (missing or no longer in existence) to illustrate the chapter on the Hisperide in both editions of the flora. Much like the 1568 Florum, the Austrian flora is a small botanical treatise publishing Clusius’ original studies of plants. Serving as the second step (the first one being his Spanish flora in 1576) to his later complete works in 1601, the Austrian flora contains the botanist’s observations of local plants growing in Austria, Hungary, and the immediate surrounding countries.60 By using clear locations to describe the plants in their natural habitat, Clusius connects the plant depiction of HB 4331 to a well-defined geographical region. HB 4331 thus gained a new association with the particular areas of Austria, Hungary, and their neighboring countries, instead of only representing a plant from the Low Countries. The recycling of the 108 blocks in Clusius’ works, therefore, expands the understanding of local plants from central Europe by situating the blocks in a new geographical context outside their original intention.

4.3 Repeat

The notions of reusing and, especially, recycling testify more prominently to the contributions of the botanists who generated new meanings using the unaltered visual information carried by the 108 woodblocks. On the other hand, the concept of repeating, the most complex use of the blocks in their careers at the Officina Plantiniana, can shed more light on the input of the publisher in botanical knowledge transfer. As previously elaborated, Fuchs criticized Egenolff for repeatedly using the same woodblock to print the same images for different plants. A similar repeat can be observed in the early botanical works of Dodoens, particularly in the first book he and Van der Loe published in 1552.61 For example, the same woodblock HB 7581 is used to illustrate both Zea and Zeopyron. The repeated use of HB 7581 for the two plants continues throughout almost every publication issued by Dodoens and Van der Loe, including the 1554 Cruijdeboeck and its reprints, before the second generation of Dodoens’ large herbal was materialized. Nonetheless, repeating a block to illustrate multiple plant names does not seem to be an economical act designed to maximize profits for the Antwerp publishers and botanists. Throughout the entire corpus of fifty-one publications printed by Van der Loe and the Officina Plantiniana, only a handful of such repeats can be found. The reason to repeat the few blocks for different plant names remains inexplicit, perhaps due to the lack of specimens from which to compose the depictions.

Rather, within the Plantin Press, repetition served a different purpose. The same depiction of the plant is repeated or copied without alteration on another block. HB 6908 (Fig. 2) and the two duplicates of the snowdrop image (HB 7995, Fig. 3; HB 4924, Fig. 4) from section 2 repeat the same depiction on three separate blocks. Of course, copying images or depictions is nothing new. It was a common practice in the early modern period. For example, 500 woodblocks were commissioned for Dodoens’ 1554 Cruijdeboeck with depictions directly copied from Fuchs’ 1542 De historia stirpium.62 Copying saved time and money by eliminating the composing phase altogether. It also shortened the drawing and transferring time, depending on the methods of transferring, if a publisher wanted to print an image but did not have the original block.63 However, the duplicates in the MPM botanical woodblock collection indicate that the Officina Plantiniana had multiple blocks of the same depiction at their disposal at one point in the early modern period. If these duplicates were not made to maximize the repeating of a plant depiction for different plant names in the botanists’ treatises, why are there duplicates? Furthermore, what does this repetition of certain plant depictions mean for the 108 blocks?

The thirty-one duplicates in the 108 woodblocks and the three from the 1569 additions mark the 1568 and 1569 Florum as the title with the highest percentage of duplicates from the whole MPM botanical woodblock collection. One hypothesis to explain the duplicates’ creation is that certain blocks were employed so regularly for printing that a backup block might be needed when the original could not take the pressure of the press anymore.64 Returning to HB 4331, the block was used for seventeen publications in total. If an average print run produced 800 copies at the Plantin Press, the block could have easily been placed under a hand press approximately 13,600 times. The high number of printed images yielded from a block makes the argument seemingly plausible. Nevertheless, woodblocks are very durable and can be used to print more impressions than one would expect.65 Even after so many times under the press, and after more than 400 years, HB 4331 is still in good condition. Despite some woodworm damage (which only became a problem in later centuries), the block shows no major cracks, and could still produce decent quality prints for the museum’s woodblock catalogue in the second half of the twentieth century (Fig. 1). Moreover, the depictions that are repeated and duplicated in the collection appear to be somewhat arbitrary, with no clear pattern of why a depiction was made twice, or even three times. HB 4331 does not have a duplicate, and many depictions with duplicates did not appear in botanical treatises as regularly as HB 4331. The argument that duplicates were made to enable the continued printing of a particular depiction thus does not explain the existence of the repeated blocks at the Plantin Press.

d78136725e1733

Figure 6

(a) Block HB 4115, 13.1 × 7.1 cm. (b) Block HB 4115, printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue. (c) Block HB 7844, 13.5 × 7.5 cm. (d) Block HB 7844, printed impression from the MPM woodblock catalogue

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author

A detailed comparison of the printed images in the botanical publications provided some clues to unravel the existence of the duplicates (Appendix II). Overall, blocks with Style 1 and Style 2 are consistently used for the majority of the publications. Three sets of duplicates are cut in Style 1, but they were used alternatively throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For example, HB 4115 and HB 7844 (Fig. 6) both repeat the depiction of an iris. This depiction appeared in fourteen publications, but twelve are printed with HB 4115 and two – the last two books in the chronology of the blocks’ printing history – with HB 7844. Similar to HB 4331, HB 4115 and the other original blocks of the three sets are still in good condition. Repeating these depictions might have been related to the practical issue of missing blocks in the Plantin Press. While the archival records are never explicit about which woodblocks the publishers were referring to, there are occasional mentions of re-cutting a block because the original one was not found at the time of printing.66 Some of the duplicates might have been made because the original block was misplaced in storage or lost during transportation, but resurfaced after another block was made. Creating duplicate blocks supported the uninterrupted printing of the plant depictions, allowing the botanists to use the same representations of plants for their descriptions.

Another observation reveals that blocks cut in Style 3, including HB 7995 (Fig. 3), were used only in a translated edition of Dodoens’ 1554 Cruijdeboek. The book, with the text translated into English by the amateur botanist Henry Lyte, was printed by the widow and son of Van der Loe for the London publisher Gerard Dewes in 1578. It is known that this edition includes several images from the small herbals of Dodoens that were printed by Plantin, but it was unclear with what blocks Van der Loe’s widow and son printed.67 The material evidence in the museum collection and the confirmation from the printed images conclude that, instead of borrowing or loaning the original blocks from Plantin, Van der Loe’s widow and son commissioned new blocks with the same depictions as Dodoens’ small herbals, with most from the 1568 Florum and 1569 additions. The repeating of these depictions in the 108 blocks’ careers happened for the same reason that the 500 woodblocks after Fuchs’ plant depictions were copied. It carried the “aura” of the plant depictions from one publisher to another, and allowed the publishing house of Van der Loe to update the visual botanical knowledge generated by Dodoens in his early works. When Van der Loe’s stock went to the Plantin Press in 1581, the printer-publisher and his successors gained access to two blocks with repeated visual information to potentially rotate or double the quantity of printing. However, the Plantin Press almost never used the botanical blocks from Van der Loe’s publishing house. As the quality of linework is arguably higher in the original blocks for the 1568 Florum, Van der Loe’s duplicates became obsolete and their ability to spread visual botanical knowledge diminished. Repeating, in the careers of the 108 blocks, was not intended to maximize profit for the publishers, but was a practical strategy for them to obtain the depiction of a woodcut in order to continue or transmit the visual arguments of the botanists.68

4.4 Replace

The first three Rs – reuse, recycle, and repeat – do not involve alteration of the woodblocks. The formes in which the blocks were placed and their relationship with text change every time and so generate new contexts, but the blocks themselves and the visual information they carry remain the same. However, the last R, replace, could potentially change the physical blocks. There are multiple ways to replace the visual information of a plant. When replacing occurs without altering the woodblocks, the entire plant depiction is removed. As previously mentioned, one image from the 1568 Florum was replaced in the 1569 edition. The Lirioumanis was completely removed, both image and text, and replaced by the Iris bulbosa. The block for the Lirioumanis, HB 7960, was not reused in any of Dodoens’ works, recycled by Clusius and Lobelius, nor repeated into a duplicate for the botanical treatises printed by the Plantin Press.69 Most often, however, the replacing of a block did not involve an elimination of a plant, but simply substituted a new block that carried a different depiction of the plant. For example, the plant name Pseudodictamum is illustrated by a now missing block in the 1553 Trium priorium by Dodoens and Van der Loe.70 The next year, however, block HB 7174 replaced the missing block and was used for Pseudodictamum for the later publications by the duo. This type of replacing is especially prominent when Dodoens’ large herbal transformed from its first to its second generation through his 1583 masterpiece, such as the case of HB 4331 (Fig. 1) replacing HB 7090 (Fig. 5) to portray the Viola matronalis. Two years after Plantin purchased the stock from Van der Loe’s widow, the printer-publisher had all the blocks from Dodoens’ 1554 Cruijdeboeck at the time when printing the 1583 Stirpium. Nonetheless, much like the fates of Van der Loe’s duplicates of Dodoens’ small herbals, the majority of the stock was not used again. Plantin purchased the blocks not because he needed them to illustrate the plants, but to build a monopoly of the botanical printing blocks in the Low Countries to ensure the sales of his books.71 As the depiction of the Viola matronalis on HB 4331 has more refined details than the depiction on HB 7090, replacing the woodcut with the block commissioned by Plantin increased the pictorial quality of the herbal.

When replacing takes place on the actual blocks, it means that part of the existing information was cut out of the block and new details were inserted. To do so, the woodcutter cut the unwanted part off, and then nailed another block with the needed information to the remaining block. To replace finer details on a block, the woodcutter removed the small section where change was required, placed a piece of wood of the same size, called a plug, to evenly fill the cutout area, and finally re-cut the details. Replacing details on a block comes with a risk. No matter how skillful the cutter was, the boundary of the alteration almost always shows, and the gap becomes more visible over time. Wood absorbs humidity or loses moisture depending on its environment, and the plug might shrink or expand at a different rate than the main block. Block HB 4912 was made for the plant Batatas in Clusius’ 1576 treatise of the Spanish flora.72 A small but growing gap between the root and the viney stems can be spotted in the woodcut and its later reprints as a result of the small plug in the woodblock. Among the 108 woodblocks for the 1568 Florum, one experienced this type of replacing. Block HB 7993 was created to print the plant Sisynrichium in the 1568 Florum. The woodcut shows the full plant with an extra bulb on the bottom right corner. In the 1569 second edition, the same plant now has an additional fruit on the top right corner. An examination of HB 7993 (Fig. 7) shows that the top left corner of the block was cut away, leaving the block an irregular shape instead of a rectangle. A small block, HB 8007 (Fig. 7), was then created to fit into the cutout space. It replaced the void in the background of the original block with the visual information of the fruit and thus generated a new image. Although the two blocks always worked together to print all the later reprints of this plant depiction, HB 7993 and HB 8007 are not properly combined into one block. As a result, they were assigned two non-sequential inventory numbers in the collection, as their connection was not previously understood. In the careers of the 108 blocks, replacing information by altering the depiction on the actual blocks offered a means to generate new visual language with existing materials.

d78136725e1907

Figure 7

(a) Sisynrichium in Rembert Dodoens’ 1568 Florum. (b) Block HB 7993, 12.6 × 7 cm. (c) Block HB 8007, 4.95 × 3.05 cm. (d) Sisynrichium in Rembert Dodoens’ 1569 Florum

Citation: Nuncius 35, 1 (2020) ; 10.1163/18253911-03501002

(a) Museum Plantin-Moretus, https://anet.be/record/opacmpm/c:lvd:640036/N (accessed 9 Sept. 2019); (b–c) Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage, scanned and edited by the author; (d) Missouri Botanical Garden/Biodiversity Heritage Library, https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/37887 (accessed 9 Sept. 2019)

5 Conclusion

The reusing, recycling, repeating, and replacing of the 108 woodblocks show the several ways in which these printing blocks were used to produce content for the botanical treatises at the Officina Plantiniana in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By reorganizing and rearranging the blocks into new printing formes, information could be revised, updated, translated, and expanded. While this article has emphasized the changing contexts in which the woodblocks were situated, it should be noted that they remain, for the most part, pictorially unchanged. The duality of being the same and different at once generated a shared visual language. The printing of the woodblocks created hundreds to thousands of the same plant depictions. These printed counterparts of the blocks inherited their function as the carriers of the plant images. Working in tandem, the blocks and their impressions contributed to building the early modern visual culture of botanical imagery. The plant depiction of HB 4331 (Fig. 1) could be recognized in the early modern Low Countries, England, Denmark, and anywhere that the blocks’ printed counterparts traveled to, even though the names of the plant portrait differed in these regions. More importantly, perhaps, is the shared visual plant language facilitated by the repeating plant depictions. By copying the depictions of the 500 woodcuts from Leonhart Fuchs, Dodoens’ book continued the visual argument of the German botanist, no matter how unintentionally. Likewise, by loaning the blocks from the Plantin Press or copying the plant depictions created for Dodoens, Clusius, and Lobelius, contemporary or later botanists shared the visual understanding of plants started by the three botanists.

At the end of this study, it is important to critically reevaluate to what extent these issues of visual botanical knowledge transfer reside in the woodblocks instead of the printed impressions. Arguably, many of the observations made in the last section could have been obtained by analyzing the printed images without the presence of a block. After all, most readers, historical or modern, of these early modern botanical treatises would never have encountered a printing block in their pursuit of plant knowledge. Woodblocks as historical evidence also require other kinds of documentation to properly understand them. Without the archival records from the Plantin business log, it would not have been possible to learn the division of labor and related costs for the production of the 108 woodblocks for the 1568 Florum. Studying the career of the 108 blocks within the scope of the entire MPM botanical woodblock collection has, however, answered many (albeit small) existing questions and made the practical issues in the process of printing botanical treatises at the Officina Plantiniana more easily understood. For example, as a group, blocks cut in Style 3 confirmed that the Van der Loe press indeed made a new set of blocks that copied flowering plant depictions from Dodoens’ 1568 Florum for Lyte’s English translation of Dodoens’ Cruijdeboek in 1578. The fact that these blocks were not used again in the later botanical treatises printed by the Plantin Press after becoming part of its stock in 1581 strengthens the existing understanding that Plantin would purchase woodblocks, punches for casting lead types, and other printing materials to gain monopoly in the industry. The decisions to use or not use certain blocks to print images might thus be for practical business reasons rather than ideological reasons linked to a book’s content. Similar to any kind of historical evidence, woodblocks need to be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, they bring a practical perspective into current discussions about early modern image making and knowledge transfer through the printed media.

Acknowledgments

I am particularly grateful to Sven Dupré, Florike Egmond, and the anonymous reviewers for reading the drafts of this article and for their critical feedback. I would also like to thank Iris Kockelbergh and the staff of the Museum Plantin-Moretus for supporting this research.

Appendix I: Profiles of the 108 Woodblocks

This appendix records the physical measurements of each of the 108 blocks, the 1569 additions, and the duplicates. The blocks were not cut as even rectangles; therefore, the given measurements are approximate with the margin of variation usually within 0.3 cm. It also identifies the cutting styles based on the material properties of the woodblocks and in which ways they are worked. This appendix arranges the woodblocks in the order of their appearance in the 1568 Florum instead of in the order of the MPM inventory numbers. The original spreadsheet with raw data can be shared upon request.

Color code

Duplicates (Two Shades for Easier Recognition)

1569 Additions

Attributed cutting styles

Style

Wood color

Background

Backside

1

Dark

Semi Smooth

Clean Cut

2

Dark

Flat

Clean Cut

3

Yellow Brown

Smooth

Clean Cut

4

Red Brown

Clear Tool Mark

Edged

No.

Page

Plant

Inventory

Height

Width

Thickness

Recessed

Style

Note

no.

name

no.

(cm)

(cm)

(cm)

area (cm)

1

13

Nigra siue purpurea viola

6938

7.6

7.1

2.2

0.2

1

2

17

Viola tricolor

4547

11.9

7.1

2.2

0.25

1

3

20

Leucoion candidum maius

6301

13.1

7.2

2.1

0.25

1

4

21

Leucoion luteum

6303

13.1

7.1

2.2

0.3

1

5

24

Viola matronalis

4331

13.1

7.1

2.25

0.3

1

6

26

Viola latifolia bulbonac

6304

13.2

7.2

2.1

0.4

1

7

28

Viola mariana

5937

13.1

7.1

2.2

0.3

1

8

32

Ceruicaria maior

5933

13.1

7.15

2.1

0.25

1

9

35

Viola calathiana

6131

11.8

5.1

2.2

0.4

2

10

37

Campanula hortensis

5934

13

7

2.25

0.3

1

11

41

Digitalis purpurea

4518

13.1

7.2

2.1

0.3

1

12

43

Lychnis coronaria

4336

13.1

7

2.2

0.25

1

13

46

Lychnis sylvestris

5616

13.1

7.15

2.25

0.2

1

14

48

Nigellastrum

4094

13.2

6.4

2.2

0.35

1

15

50

Cyanus flos frumentorum

4487

13.05

7.1

2.2

0.3

1

15

50

Cyanus flos frumentorum

7808

13.6

7.6

2.1

0.2

4

16

52

Cyanus maior

6352

13.1

7

2.2

0.2

1

16

52

Cyanus maior

7866

13.5

7.7

2.1

0.25

4

17

54

Flos regius

4650

13

7.15

2.1

0.2

1

18

58

Calendula

4495

13.1

7.2

2.1

0.2

1

19

61

Flos Aphricanus

6356

13.05

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

19

61

Flos Aphricanus

7792

13.4

7.8

2.15

0.25

4

20

65

Caryophylleus flos maior

5605

12.9

7.1

2.4

0.25

3

20

65

Caryophylleus flos maior

6308

13

7.15

2.1

0.2

1

21

69

Armerius flos primus

6312

13.1

7

2.15

0.2

1

22

71

Armerius flos tertius

4417

13.1

6.2

2.1

0.25

1

22

71

Armerius flos tertius

7817

13.1

6.4

2.4

0.3

3

23

73

Flos Constantinopolitanus

4340

13

7.15

2.1

0.2

1

24

75

Saponaria

6313

13.05

7.05

2.1

0.2

1

25

77

Damasonium nothum

6314

13.1

7

2.3

0.3

1

26

81

Aquileia

6315

13

7.3

2.2

0.25

1

27

83

Antirrhinum

6316

13.2

7.25

2.15

0.3

1

28

85

Antirr. sylvestre plyteuma

6317

13.15

7.2

2.1

0.3

1

29

88

Linaria

4379

12.95

7.15

2.1

0.2

1

30

90

Amarantus purpureus

4269

13.1

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

31

93

Rosa satiua

6319

13

7.05

2.2

0.3

1

32

95

Rosa sylvestris

6320

13.15

7.1

2.25

0.2

1

33

106

Cistus

6321

13.15

7.3

2.3

0.35

1

34

111

Paeonia mas

4603

13.1

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

34

111

Paeonia mas

6322

13.15

7.4

2.4

0.2

1

35

113

Paeonia foemina prior

6323

13.1

7.3

2.15

0.2

1

36

115

Paeonia foemina altera

6324

13.1

7.2

2.2

0.2

1

37

119

Lilium candidum

4923

13.1

5.8

2.1

0.3

1

38

122

Lilium purpureum maius

4925

13.1

5.1

2.15

0.35

2

39

124

Lilium purpureum minus

6931

10.8

5.05

2.1

0.4

2

39

124

Lilium purpureum minus

7791

11.1

7.7

2

0.2

4

40

127

Lilium sylvestre

4926

13.2

4.9

2

0.4

2

41

129

Lilium non bulbosum

5418

13.2

7.2

2.2

0.3

1

41

129

Lilium non bulbosum

7842

13.1

7

2.3

0.3

3

41

129

Lilium non bulbosum

7849

13.3

7.7

2.1

0.3

4

42

133

Lilium convallium

6180

10.5

7.7

2.05

0.3

4

42

133

Lilium convallium

6927

10.2

6.85

2

0.35

1

43

134

Unifolium

4993

9.6

7.65

2.1

0.4

4

43

134

Unifolium

6933

9.4

6.6

2.3

0.2

1

44

136

Asphodelus albus

5500

13.1

7

2.2

0.3

1

45

139

Asphodelus luteus

6328

13

7.1

2.1

0.4

1

46

141

Asphod. bulbosus Galeni

5482

13.05

7.1

2.1

0.35

1

47

143

Iris

6350

13.2

7.3

2.2

0.2

1

47

143

Iris

7848

13.6

7.85

2.2

0.25

4

48

150

Chamaeiris

6155

10.8

6.3

2

0.2

4

48

150

Chamaeiris

6911

10.8

6.6

2.1

0.4

2

49

154

Pseudoiris

4115

13.1

7.1

2.2

0.2

1

49

154

Pseudoiris

6894

13

6.2

2

0.2

4

49

154

Pseudoiris

7844

13.5

7.5

2.3

0.2

1

50

158

Gladiolus

6329

13

7

2

0.3

1

51

160

Sisynrichium

4142

13.1

7

2.4

0.4

3

51

160

Sisynrichium

7839

13.4

7.5

2

0.3

4

51

160

Sisynrichium

7993

12.6

7

2.1

0.35

1

form one depiction

51

160

Sisynrichium

8007

4.95

3.05

2.1

0.3

1

52

162

Lirioumanis

7960

13

5.6

2.1

0.2

1

53

167

Hyacinthus non scriptus

5468

13.2

7.2

2.1

0.6

2

54

170

Hyacint. neoter. primus

4151

13.2

7.2

2.1

0.3

1

55

172

Hyacint. neoter. tertius

6333

13.05

7.05

2.2

0.3

1

56

174

Hyacinthus autumnalis

4145

12.6

7.4

2.2

0.3

4

56

174

Hyacinthus autumnalis

6134

11.3

7.1

2.1

0.3

1

57

175

Hyacinthus Fuchsij

5480

12.5

7

2.2

0.35

1

58

177

Bulbus leucanthemus

4173

13

7.1

2.15

0.2

1

59

181

Narcissus medio purpur.

4155

13.5

7.3

2

0.3

4

59

181

Narcissus medio purpur.

6335

13.2

7.2

2

0.5

1

60

183

Narcis. medio luteus alter.

5438

13.1

7

2.5

0.4

3

60

183

Narcis. medio luteus alter.

6336

13.1

7.1

2.2

0.35

1

61

188

Narcissus iunifolius

6129

13.1

4.65

2.4

0.3

3

61

188

Narcissus iunifolius

6910

13.1

4.9

2.2

0.3

1

62

190

Narciss. luteus sylvestris

6893

11.3

6.5

2

0.4

1

63

192

Leucoion bulb. triphyllon

4924

11.6

5.7

2.1

0.3

4

63

192

Leucoion bulb. triphyllon

6908

10.5

4.1

2.1

0.5

2

63

192

Leucoion bulb. triphyllon

7995

11.2

4.15

2.3

0.4

3

64

194

Leucoion bulb. exaphyllon

5458

12.2

7.7

2

0.2

4

64

194

Leucoion bulb. exaphyllon

6904

11.65

6.2

2.1

0.45

1

65

195

Leucoion bulb. polyanth.

5460

13.4

7.6

2.1

0.3

4

65

195

Leucoion bulb. polyanth.

6339

13.2

7.2

2.05

0.5

2

66

197

Tulipa

7775

13.05

7.2

2.1

0.3

1

66

197

Tulipa

7846

13.2

7

2.4

0.5

3

67

198

Tulipa minor

5434

13.2

6.9

2.2

0.4

1

67

198

Tulipa minor

7790

13.1

7

2.4

0.4

3

67

198

Tulipa minor

7880

13.4

7.7

2.15

0.3

4

68

202

Cynosorchis altera

6342

13.2

7.1

2.1

0.45

2

69

206

Testiculus morionis mas

5585

13.2

7.15

2.1

0.4

2

70

207

Testiculus morio. femina

4927

12.8

6.5

2.1

0.4

2

71

209

Tragorchis, testic. hirci.

6344

13.1

6.6

2.1

0.3

1

72

211

Orchis serapias primus

7992

13.2

7.2

2.1

0.4

2

73

212

Orchis serapias secundus

6914

11.5

3.8

2

0.4

2

74

213

Orchis serapias tertius

6916

12.2

2.3

2

0.4

2

75

214

Orchis odor. testic. odor.

4936

10.9

2.5

2.3

0.3

1

76

217

Satyrium basilic. primum

6346

13.2

6.7

2.05

0.4

2

76

217

Satyrium basilic. primum

7864

13.7

7.6

2

0.25

4

77

218

Satyrium basilic. alterum

4208

13.2

7.45

2.2

0.25

4

77

218

Satyrium basilic. alterum

6347

13.2

6.8

2.2

0.6

2

78

221

Pseudoorchis bifolium

4317

13.3

7.65

2.05

0.25

4

79

223

Tragopogon

4493

13.05

7

2.2

0.3

1

80

224

Scorzonera

5882

13.1

6.95

2.4

0.25

3

80

224

Scorzonera

6357

13.1

7

2.1

0.35

1

80

224

Scorzonera

7789

13.5

7.7

2.15

0.25

4

81

226

Chamaemelum vulgare

6358

13.1

6.35

2.25

0.2

1

82

229

Cotula alba

6359

13.1

7.05

2.1

0.2

1

83

233

Chamaeme. odoratum

6360

13

7.1

2.1

0.15

1

84

235

Eranthemum

4293

13.1

7

2.15

0.2

1

85

238

Buphthalmum

5652

13

7.05

2.1

0.3

1

85

238

Buphthalmum

7794

13.4

7.7

2.1

0.2

4

86

244

Chrysanthemum

5655

13.1

7

2.1

0.25

1

87

246

Bellis hortensis

4978

9.9

7.7

2.1

0.2

4

88

248

Elichryson

6364

13.2

7.3

2.25

0.3

1

89

250

Stoechas citrina

4440

12.9

7.1

2.15

0.2

1

90

253

Santolina

5663

13.05

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

90

253

Santolina

6365

13.7

7.25

2.1

0.25

1

91

256

Maiorana, siue marum

6366

11.8

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

92

260

Marum vulgare clinopod

5684

13

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

93

263

Lavandula

6368

13.05

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

94

266

Stoechas

4396

13.1

7.1

2.2

0.2

1

94

266

Stoechas

5666

13.4

7.7

2.1

0.25

4

95

270

Serpillum vulgare

5019

8.05

7

2.1

0.2

1

96

274

Ocimum

6371

13.05

7.15

2.1

0.3

1

97

277

Ocimum sylvestre acinos

5682

13.2

7.1

2.05

0.2

1

98

280

Oruala

4498

13

7.1

2.1

0.25

1

99

283

Horminum

6386

13

7.15

2.1

0.15

1

100

287

Balsamita maior

6387

13

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

101

288

Balsamita minor

4329

13

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

102

293

Anemone

5565

12.2

7.1

2.1

0.25

1

103

295

Chrysanth. Perunianum.

6361

13.3

7.25

2.1

0.2

1

103

295

Chrysanth. Perunianum.

7877

13.4

7.85

2

0.3

4

104

299

Asphodelus palustris

4139

13.05

7.1

2.1

0.2

1

104

299

Asphodelus palustris

7847

13.85

7.6

2.05

0.3

4

105

301

Cirsion

4526

13.1

7.2

2.1

0.2

1

106

302

Campana lazura

6451

12.95

7

2.2

0.2

1

107

304

Panicum Indicum

6520

13.05

7

2.2

0.3

1

108

306

Panacis species

6399

13

7.15

2.1

0.2

1

No.

Page

Plant

Inventory

Height

Width

Thickness

Recessed

Style

Note

no.

name

no.

(cm)

(cm)

(cm)

area (cm)

a

54

Cyanoides flos

6353

13.05

7.2

2.2

0.2

1

b

112

Flos solis

5325

13.35

7.2

2.3

0.2

1

c

167

Iris bulbosa

4141

13.3

7.05

2.35

0.4

3

c

167

Iris bulbosa

5518

13.6

7.25

2.15

0.2

1

c

167

Iris bulbosa

7840

13.4

7.6

2.1

0.3

4

d

173

Hyacinthus orientalis

5463

13

7.3

2.1

0.3

1

d

173

Hyacinthus orientalis

7836

13.15

7

2.4

0.25

3

d

173

Hyacinthus orientalis

7906

13.15

7.7

1.7

0.25

4

e

185

Ornithogalon maius

5481

13.1

6.9

2.4

0.3

3

e

185

Ornithogalon maius

6334

12.9

7.3

2.1

0.3

1

e

185

Ornithogalon maius

7899

13.4

7.65

2.05

0.3

4

f

258

Aster atticus

5715

13.1

7.2

2.2

0.2

1

Appendix II: Identification of the Duplicates

This appendix identifies which block was used to print the woodcut in each book that contains the image. The original spreadsheet with raw data can be shared upon request.

Color code

1569 Additions

Both blocks are cut in Style 1. The darker blue is to more easily distinguish which block is used for which book.

Attributed cutting styles

Style

Wood color

Background

Backside

1

Dark

Semi Smooth

Clean Cut

2

Dark

Flat

Clean Cut

3

Yellow Brown

Smooth

Clean Cut

4

Red Brown

Clear Tool Mark

Edged

No. from Appendix I

15

16

19

20

22

34

4487

6352

6356

5605

4417

4603

7808

7866

7792

6308

7817

6322

Page No.

50

52

61

65

71

111

1568 Florum, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

51

53

63

67

73

114

1569 Florum, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

296

410

241

242

390

1576 Plantarum … historia, Lobelius

4487

6356

6308

4417

4603

Page No.

154

155

1578 A nievve herball, Dodoens

5605

7817

Page No.

647

871

527

538

832

1581 Kruydtboeck, Lobelius

4487

6356

6308

4417

4603

Page No.

546

713

441

454

684

1581 Plantarum … icones, Lobelius

4487

6356

6308

4417

4603

Page No.

250

250

254

174

176

194

1583 Stirpium … sex, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

1583 Rariorum … stirpium [I], Clusius

Page No.

1583 Rariorum … stirpium [II], Clusius

Page No.

546

713

441

454

684

1591 Icones stirpium, Lobelius

4487

6356

6308

4417

4603

Page No.

286

288

1601 Rariorum … historia, Clusius

6308

4417

Page No.

423

424

432

278

284

317

1608 Cruydt-Boeck, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

251

251

255

174

176

194

1616 Stirpium … sex, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

398

399

406

261

267

297

1618 Cruydt-Boeck, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

732

732

750

588

601

980

1633 The herball, Gerard/Johnson

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

732

732

750

588

601

980

1636 The herball, Gerard/Johnson

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

398

399

406

261

267

297

1644 Cruydt-Boeck, Dodoens

4487

6352

6356

6308

4417

6322

Page No.

51

236

100

1647 Dansk Urtebog, Paulli

4487

6356

6322

No. from Appendix I

39

41

42

43

47

48

6931

5418

6180

4993

6350

6155

7791

7842

6927

6933

7848

6911

7849

Page No.

124

129

133

134

143

150

1568 Florum, Dodoens

6931

5418

6927

6933

6350

6911

Page No.

128

133

137

138

147

154

1569 Florum, Dodoens

6931

5418

6927

6933

6350

6911

Page No.

84

47

87

161

32

34

1576 Plantarum … historia, Lobelius

6931

5418

6927

6933

6350

6911

Page No.

204