Giovanni Battista Ferrari: the science and art of citrus fruits

Giovanni Battista Ferrari was an erudite Jesuit friar from Siena (c. 1584 – 1655) who taught Hebrew at the Collegio Romano, i.e. the school managed by the Society of Jesus in Rome. He was an orientalist and a theologian, as well as an enthusiast of horticulture and botany.

Among Ferrari’s works related to these interests of his, a hefty volume titled “Hesperides, sive de malorum aureorum cultura et usu libri IV” stands out. Published in 1646, it is the book in which he classified and analyzed citrus fruits, reporting their history, area of origin, and cultivation methods.

The voluminous essay was illustrated with full-color engravings of drawings by great contemporary artists, such as Nicolas Poussin, Guidi Reni and Domenico Zampieri (or Domenichino).

Here is a selection of these gorgeous vegetable portraits.

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