CORNUT, Jacques Philippe (1606-1651). Canadensium plantarum, aliarumque nondum editarum historia nondum editarum historia cui adiectum est ad calcem enchiridion botanicum parisiense. Paris: Simon le Moyne, 1635.
4to., (9 2/8 x 6 4/8 inches). 68 full-page etched plates in the text (some pale staining and one or two pages quite brown). Contemporary vellum over paste-board (spine chipped with loss, front hinge weak).
Provenance: with the 18th-century engraved armorial bookplate of Nordkirchen on the front paste-down
First edition of the first Canadian Flora, with the "Enchiridium Botanicum Parisiense", the first flora of Paris, from page 215. Five South African lilies are also illustrated for the first time.
Cornut was a French physician "and his book described for the first time about thirty North American plants, chiefly from the gardens of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris. Eighty-six plants are described in the book, most of them illustrated with a full-page copper engraving showing the root, stem, leaves, flowers, and sometimes fruit. In some plates, as in plate XXXVIII, Apocynum minus rectum Canadense (common milkweed), details of the unique seed case, the seeds with their filamentous pappi, and the flower head are added. ... The roots are included on almost all plates, a reflection of their importance in medicinal use.
"The fact that the Historia was grounded in medical botany is important to understanding the convention by which Cornut and his artist worked in producing and engraving the illustrations. Cornut's work stands near the end of a very old tradition of herbal literature, and the illustrations reflect a convention established in the mid-sixteenth century. At the same time, Cornut's illustrations were not printed from woodcuts, but from engraved copper plates, and hist text reflected not only medical usage, but horticultural observations. The title of Cornut's work also suggests that he has at least attempted to prepare a regional flora, and he has prepared it by working with a living collection, a garden. These two aspects of Cornut's work, herbal on the one hand and regional flora on the other, mark it as transitional, between the Renaissance and the early modern period" (Victoria Dickenson, Drawn from Life: Science and Art in the Portrayal of the New World", page 80-81).
Jean Robin was director of the Royal Gardens of the Louvre for Henri III, Henri IV and Louis XIII. Tournefort refers to Robin as the most celebrated botanist of his time and Linnaeus named the locust tree (Robinia) after him. It was he, and the Morin family, who owned several Parisian commercial nurseries, who supplied Cornut with most of his specimens, and who supervised the gardens of Henry IV and the garden of the Paris Faculty of Medicine. Linnaeus consulted this work, over a century later, in order to better understand the plants of Canada. Cornut also included five South African bulb plants, again illustrated here for the first time. Hunt 227; Nissen BBI 406. Catalogued by Kate Hunter