Aldrovandi’s Opera Omnia – Volume with 495 Pages of Text and 8 Full Page Illustrations


Product No. aldrovandi

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Opera Omnia or Patricii Bononiensis de Quadrupedibus Solidipedibus

This rare, first edition volume is from Ulysse Aldrovandi’s Opera Omnia. This is a volume dedicated to quadruped with the title page reading Patricii Bononiensis de Quadrupedibus Solidipedibus…. It was published in 1639 in Bologna, Italy. There is a stamp to the fron papers for the “Royal Entomological Society of London”. There are 495 pages of text with 8 full page illustrations, some with images to each side. It is bound in leather.

This volume was part of a massive, multi-volume, natural history encyclopedia. It was originally 13 volumes in total and featured illustrations of animals, plants, minerals, and fantastic “monsters” including dragons.

Aldrovandi was an Italian botanist, pharmacologist, and noted author. He studied mathematics, Latin, law, and philosophy eventully earning a degree in medicine in 1553. In 1549, on return from studies in Paua, he was arrested in Bologna for heresy and sent to Rome where he managed to exonerate himself, likely due to his parents’ nobility.

Aldrovandi channeled much of his life’s work into collecting, writing and illustrating different biological specimens. His collection is now in display in the University in Bologna. The specimens were classified according to his own system and contributed to the later development of animal taxonomy.

He became a full professor at the University of Bologna in 1561 where he presented natural history as a systematic study. He was also appointed the inspector of drugs and pharmacies, which met opposition, but was confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII. The Pope actually became a benefactor of Aldrovandi’s numerous works on natural history.

Only four of the volumes credited to Aldrovandi appeared in his life time (1522-1605). His students used his manuscripts to complete the remainder of his work. It was the largest collection of natural history illustrations to appear before the 18th century.

“Aldrovandi was aware that the enormity of his task would stretch beyond his lifetime; just as Aristotle had passed his work on to his disciples, Aldrovandi hoped that his own pupils would continue the unfinished business of writing the definitive history of nature. At the end of his life, his literary production -mostly based on the objects of his museum- totaled more than 400 volumes, a number that he claimed would take more than a century to print. ‘And with all this I have kept three scribes in my house, excellent painters, designers, engravers, and have spent much on transportation [of artifacts] and on a library that can stand up to any other particular library in Italy.’ While it is hardly surprising that we should find Aldrovandi’s attempts to bring all knowledge under one roof overwhelming, given our own assumption that there is always more to know, the number and size of his many unfinished projects amazed even contemporaries…

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