Medicine doctor and humanist, Leonhart Fuchs works since 1533 at the University of Tübingen where he creates a garden of medical botany. He relies on the descriptions of plants by Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Galen and is the first botanist to understand the interest of realistic illustrations.
Fuchs publishes in 1542 De historia stirpium commentarii insignes, a folio 36 x 24 cm printed in Basel. This 896-page book includes no less than 508 full-sized illustrations of plants.
It is a team work : the portrait of the author in full length occupies a page and his three collaborators share together another page where their names are identified. The two painters (pictores operis) are busy drawing a potted plant. The third artist is the sculptor responsible for preparing the xylography blocks.
Of course the book was conceived to be colored. A copy of the first edition was put in color in 1552 by an artist named Hubert Cailleau who had the very good practice of signing and dating his works. Cailleau worked in Valenciennes in the tradition of the illuminators and was at that time a specialist of the illustrations of manuscript books of music and mass songs named antiphonaries and graduals.
This exceptional copy is estimated € 400K for sale by Reiss und Sohn in Königstein im Taunus on October 30, lot 592. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.