Out of all the illustrations in all the books in Special Collections, this one ranks high among my favorites. It’s the last image in Leonhart Fuchs’ stunningly illustrated herbal De historia stirpium comentarii insignes, and it acknowledges just how important the artists were in the production of this book. This is thought to be the first book that has portraits of the artists, and here they are, in hand-colored woodcuts, labeled with their names and the tools and activities of their trades. At the top, Albertus Meyer produces an illustration from a live specimen, while Heinricus Füllmaurer transfers the drawing to a woodblock.
The sculptor, Vitus Rodolph Speckle, appears below. He would have carved the wooden blocks so they could be used to print the intricate illustrations that appear in this work, but he is the only one of the three who is not depicted working with his hands. Perhaps this denotes that Speckle held a higher status than Füllmaurer or Meyer, an idea that relates to Renaissance debates about which art form was greatest: painting, sculpture, or architecture.
Fuchs, Leonhart, 1501-1566. De historia stirpivm commentarii insignes … : adiectis earvndem vivis plvsqvam quingentis imaginibus … Accessit … uocum difficilium & obscurarum passim in hoc opere ocurrentium explicatio. Basileae : In officina Isingriniana, 1542. MU Ellis Special Collections Rare Vault QK41 .F7