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Woodcut Block of Juncus

Giorgio Liberale and Wolfgang Meyerpeck1562/1565

Oak Spring Garden Foundation

Oak Spring Garden Foundation
Upperville, Virginia, United States

This woodblock was designed by Giorgio Liberale and Wolfgang Meyerpeck for the 1562
edition of Pietro Andrea Mattioli’s foundational manuscript Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis
de medica materia.
Juncus, or “rush,” has gained little attention from botanists historically, due to its
nondescript, grassy appearance. In Mattioli’s illustration, however, scholars have praised the fine
detail and shading present in the long stems on the “Juncus.” Mattioli’s illustrations have been
placed among the finest and latest existing botanical woodblock prints, as technologies in metal
engraving went on to replace wood as a medium in the 1580s.

The artists, Liberale and Meyerpeck, used large planks of pear wood to produce the
woodblocks, and because they made allowances for blemishes in the blocks’ surfaces, scholars have
deduced that they drew their designs directly onto the wood. Contrasting the illustrations with
others of the period, scholar William Patrick Watson notes, “The Mattioli images seem to express
delight in the formal and symmetrical designs that the plant forms allow, and the technical
challenges of depicting dense and complex patterns, without sacrificing botanical accuracy.”

Details

  • Title: Woodcut Block of Juncus
  • Creator: Giorgio Liberale, Wolfgang Meyerpeck
  • Date Created: 1562/1565

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