The first ten years of occupation financially strained the Company, despite considerable profits made from sugar, Brazil-wood, and loot swiped from Iberian ships. In , Johann Maurits arrived to govern, tasked with stabilizing the settlement. Under his leadership which lasted until , the colony thrived. Among the forty-six artists and scholars Maurits hired as his research staff to promote scientific studies in Brazil were the physician Willem Piso and astronomer Georg Markgraf, who arrived in
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The first ten years of occupation financially strained the Company, despite considerable profits made from sugar, Brazil-wood, and loot swiped from Iberian ships. In , Johann Maurits arrived to govern, tasked with stabilizing the settlement.
Under his leadership which lasted until , the colony thrived. Among the forty-six artists and scholars Maurits hired as his research staff to promote scientific studies in Brazil were the physician Willem Piso and astronomer Georg Markgraf, who arrived in The Historia naturalis Brasiliae, their collaborative illustrated folio volume, in twelve books, was published in Rich in description of native life, the book contains remarkable woodcuts illustrating local flora and fauna, and comprises the most important early documentation of zoology, botany and medicine in Brazil.
The woodcuts are based on an original collection of paintings and sketches, now lost; many of these original depictions were likely done by Markgraf himself. The first four books were written by Piso, and deal mainly with diseases native to Brazil and their remedies. He offers a vivid account of a patient in the throes of tetanus, and suggests that the root cause of the ailment may be a minor wound, of the kind that craftspeople incur while working.
The remaining eight books, subtitled Historia rerum naturalium Brasiliae and mostly devoted to natural history, were written by Georg Markgraf. These sections were devoted to the medical uses of plants; to fish, birds, insects, quadrupeds and reptiles; and to full descriptions of geographic regions and their inhabitants.
Images from two of these books, dealing with quadrupeds, and with insects, are pictured here. Markgraf describes the appearance, habits, and environment of each animal depicted.
Some of the four-legged creatures pictured have the names we might still use today: the armadillo, on page , would be recognizable as such to a child, as would a short-legged jaguar, on page Is, for example, the shaggy llama on page the Peruvian sheep referenced in the header? Markgraf points out that the creature pictured has a two-toed foot on his back legs, just as a llama does. The lushly illustrated and very beautiful frontispiece features a European traveler, presumably Dutch, reclining before two natives in a verdant green wood, teeming with wildlife.
Biodiversity Heritage Library
Engraved title-page by Theodor Matham, with about woodcut illustrations after Georg Marcgraf and Albert Eckhout light spotting throughout, one or two marginal tears. Contemporary calf gilt, the spine in seven compartments, with 6 raised bands, gilt-lettered in the second, the others decorated with fine gilt tools expertly rebacked preserving most of the original spine, corners strengthened. Marcgrave was initially commissioned by the Dutch West India Company to travel to north-east Brazil as an astronomer. Along with another student of medicine and mathematics, H.
Historia naturalis Brasiliae
Pages pp Historia Naturalis Brasiliae English: Brazilian Natural History , originally written in Latin, is the first scientific work on the natural history of Brazil , written by Dutch naturalist Willem Piso and research by German scientist Georg Marcgraf , published in Gralitzio , in addition to humanist Johannes de Laet. It offers an important early European insight into Brazilian flora and fauna by analyzing plants and animals and studying tropical diseases and indigenous therapies. This would lead to concern amongst Piso and his contemporaries that these people might not be able to contribute to studying medicine and botany.
Category:Historia Naturalis Brasiliae