Seeds of Knowledge: Early Modern Illustrated Herbals

October 6, 2023 through January 14, 2024

Seeds of Knowledge highlights the collection of 15th to 17th-century European printed herbals assembled by Dr. Peter Goop of Liechtenstein. Herbals were highly illustrated texts that included both the folklore of plants and their medicinal uses, and they served as references to both doctors and lay healthcare providers. The text and illustrations were repeatedly refined as the medicinal benefits of a plant’s use were more clearly understood, and the style of illustration tended towards higher degrees of naturalism. These books were working manuals and were frequently annotated by readers with notes on herbal remedies, medicines, or other uses not found in the printed text. Dr. Goop’s collection is one of the most extensive in private hands. Using the Morgan’s 10th-century manuscript of Dioscurides’ De materia medica (MS M.652) as a centerpiece, this Thaw Gallery exhibition will explore developments in the understanding of the healthful and healing properties of plants, as Europe moved away from medicinal folklore towards an increased understanding of the natural world.

Support for this exhibition is provided in part by the Rita Markus Fund for Exhibitions.

Basilius Besler (1561–1629)
Johann Leypold (act. 1607–1619) and others, engravers
Hortus Eystettensis (Garden of Eichstätt)
Altdorf: Konrad Bauer, 1613
Courtesy of Peter Goop Collection
Photography by Naomi Wenger

Gallery Images