Rudbeck’s Remains

I recently gave an online presentation at the Linnean Society on the surviving woodblocks cut for Rudbeck’s Campi elysii (Upsala, 1701–2). This was to be an ambitious encyclopedia of all known plants but only a few copies of the first two of 12 projected volumes survived the great fire in Upsala in 1702. A small number of blocks for the first volume passed to Linnaeus and hence to J. E. Smith, whose collection is now in the Linnean Society in London. In the presentation I outline the use of woodcut for botanical illustration from the fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth centuries and how woodblocks are made and printed. The blocks themselves include the rare survival of unfinished blocks, giving a unique insight into the actual process of cutting the images with a small knife on the pearwood blocks.

The presentation can be watched here: