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These charming landscape botanicals are from the original edition of a rare and beautifully produced work entitled Der Fruchtbringenden Geselschaft Nahmen, Vorhaben Gemaehide und Woerter. It was published in Frankfurt in 1646 as the manual of the society called “The Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft”, founded in 1617 by Prince Ludwig of Anhalt-Köthen to improve human virtues and to purify and improve the German language. “The intention was to establish not a brotherhood of poets but a society for the fostering of an elegant language which, serving as a model and extending over the entire German-speaking world, would produce results by example and stimulation. This task the society accomplished brilliantly. It was the prince himself who initiated the members, gave them the insignia of the society in the shape of a medallion hung around the neck, assigned to them the new characteristic names, and immortalized each new member with a picture and a stanza in the society’s manual which appeared in 1646 with engravings by Matthaeus Merian” (Faber du Faur).
Every plate in this work was engraved by Merian, a topographical artist and engraver; it is his only collection of botanicals Each print features a quaint flower with a background of a German town, garden or countryside. Near the bottom of the page are initials of the member of the society to whom the flower, tree, plant or bush was given as an emblem. Nissen calls the work one of the most beautiful emblem books ever produced. Each print is dated in the lower right corner and has a blank verso. They are on fine chain-lined, watermarked paper that measures 5.75″ by 7.5″.
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