When exotic fruits were the stuff of majesty and wonder
Have you ever thought of citrus fruits as celestial bodies, angelically suspended in the sky? Perhaps not, but J. C. Volkamer (1644–1720) did—commissioning an extravagant and breathtaking series of large-sized copperplates representing citrons, lemons, and bitter oranges in surreal scenes of majesty and wonder.
Ordering plants by post, mostly from Italy, Germany, North Africa, and even the Cape of Good Hope, the Nuremberg merchant Volkamer was a devotee of the fragrant and exotic citrus at a time when such fruits were still largely unknown north of the Alps. His garden came to contain a wide variety of specimens, and he became so obsessed with the fruits that he commissioned a team of artists and copperplate engravers to create 251 plates of 174 different citrus species as illustrations for a two-volume treatise on the citrus. The first volume appeared in 1708, with the impressively lengthy title The Nuremberg Hesperides, or Thorough Description of the Noble Citron, Lemon and Bitter Orange Fruits: How They may be Properly Planted, Cultivated, Tended and Raised in This and Neighbouring Regions.
Few colored sets of Volkamer’s work are still in existence today. This publication draws on the two recently discovered hand-colored volumes in the city of Fürth’s municipal archive in Schloss Burgfarrnbach. This reprint also includes 56 recently discovered illustrations that Volkamer intended to publish in a third volume, making up an at once meticulous and magical line-up of botanical beauty and fantastical imagination.
“It was a longing for warmth and the Mediterranean which people craved, and Volkamer created exactly the stuff that dreams of this kind are made of.”
— Philographikon Gallery
Iris Lauterbach studied Art History and Romance Languages and Literature in Mainz, Pavia and Paris and obtained her doctorate in 1985. Since 1991 she has been a member of the research department of the Central Institute for Art History in Munich and teaches “The History of Garden Architecture” at the Technical University in Munich. Her main areas of research include 18th-century France and the History of European Garden Art from the 16th to the 20th century.
Exhibition: The Botanical Imagination
May 19 - October 04, 2020
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
|Series||XL - Extra Large|
|Dimensions||cm 27,6 x 39,5|
|Language/s||English, French, German|