Historia Naturale (Natural History)

Pliny’s Natural History was an intellectual marvel in its day, and indispensable to later generations as an encyclopedia of antique knowledge of the natural world. It was also one of the first books to appear in print. The first translation of the Natural History into the vernacular was published by the Strozzi family of Florence in 1476. It was printed by Nicolas Jenson, the great Venetian printer, and this magnificent copy, on vellum, was specially illuminated for the banker Filippo Strozzi, who underwrote the edition. As well as an elaborate opening pages there are exquisite historiated initials and borders at the start of each of the thirty-seven books, many of them incorporating the Strozzi coat of arms, as well as hundreds of decorated initials within the text.


Translated from the Latin by Cristoforo Landino (1424-1498); miniatures by Gherardo (c. 1444-1497) or Monte (1448-1529) di Giovanni di Miniato (del Fora), Florence, c. 1479-83; historiated borders and initials

In Italian, on parchment; 414 leaves, 415 x 280 mm

Florentine binding, completed in 1483: dark olivegreen goatskin over thick wooden boards, with bosses and blind and gold tooling