Hortus Eystettensis

A modern publication design template for an extremely old florilegium

Done as a part of 2nd Semester Academic Project (Individual) in M.Des (IIT Hyderabad)


Create a Publication Design Template for an old florilegium


In 1613, Basilius Besler, a Nuremberg apothecary, published the Hortus Eystettensis (The Garden of Eichstatt), one of the great early flower books. It was not only one of the most expensive books of the early seventeenth century but with each leaf measuring 570 x 460 mm. (approximately 22 in x 18 in.), the largest. [1] The paper was called “Royal” and was the largest paper available at the time.

It took Besler sixteen years to complete the project. It had 367 plates depicting over 1,000 plants and flowers. The plates were organized by seasons and they were typically bound in two large volumes. Three hundred copies were printed. A plain, uncolored copy cost 35 florins; a deluxe colored copy, 500. There were two editions: a black-and-white version with text, intended as a reference book for apothecaries and others; and a luxury version without text but printed on high-quality paper and richly hand-colored throughout.

The illustrations are notable for their elegant design and decorative layout. Each page shows several plants, as here. Each plant is shown with its roots and all, in accordance with the conventions of botanical illustration at the time. The book is famous for its beauty and iconography realized using the principal art techniques of the Renaissance quite noteworthy is the use of chiarscuro color and the perspective technique. The illustrations are elevating the flower to it’s finest form. The book is put together by people who are really passionate about their plant collection, detail, look and feel.