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Culture

Acquisition of art work: Icones lignorum exoticorum et nostratium by Sepp and Houttuyn

17 January 2019

This publication – one of the most beautiful ever published about wood – gathers a collection of engravings of European and exotic hand coloured wood samples.

This publication – one of the most beautiful ever published about wood – gathers a collection of engravings of European and exotic hand coloured wood samples as specified by the naturalist and editor Jan Christian Sepp in his foreword: “Collection of wood very neatly and exactly represented in Copper-plates (being the first to this day and the only one of this kind) carefully colour’d to nature”. This copy of the first edition (1773) includes 84 plates with between 7 and 9 kinds of wood. Icones lignorum exoticorum et nostratium has been completed with 16 new plates and enhanced with a frontispiece on the title page in 1791. It has been published in its final version, 106 plates, in 1795.

Icones lignorum exoticorum et nostratium (A representation of inland and foreign woods, as well trees as shrubs) was based initially on Johann Michael Seligmann book entitled Abbildungen in- und Ausländischer Hölzer. Jan Christian Sepp completed Seligmann’s corpus with the wood collection compiled by the Dutch physician Maarten Houttuyn and the Reverend Hazeu from Rotterdam for the West Indian woods.

Engravings guiding text is published in five languages: Latin, French, English, German and Dutch. This copy of Sepp and Houttuyn’s first edition has belonged to the famous botanist Philippe de Vilmorin as evidenced by his ex-libris on the cover page.

Lastly, from among the hundreds of kinds of wood identified in this book, we can find several kinds of oak as “Streaked Oak”, “Blackish Oak of the Sea-Water”, “Oak with whitish stripes”, “Virginia-Oak-Tree”, “Oak of Pliny, book XVI, chap: 5”, “Oak Tree from the Island of Zante”, “Oak-Tree from the Mountains of the Tyrol”, “Oak-Tree from the Mountains of the Tyrol of another sort”, “Oak-Tree of Tyrol crisped”, “Bunchy green Oak with Cork-bark”, “Knotted Oak”, “Very fine knotted Oak” and “Oak-Tree found in the ground”.

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