Ulissi Aldrovandi (Aldrovandus) (1522-1605) graduated from Padua and Bologna Universities with degrees in law, philosophy and medicine and taught logic to supplement the occasional patronage bestowed on him by his cousin, the Pope.
During nearly a year of confinement in Rome while fighting a heresy charge, Aldrovandi developed a strong interest in the natural world. He began to collect all manner of specimens which apparently came to constitute a formidable natural history museum for those that visited him.
He travelled quite a bit in his quest for specimens and recorded his observations in some 4000 manuscripts, a number of which were published during his lifetime. His writings include studies in ornithology, medicine, hydrology, zoology, botany and, as can be imagined from the embellished and fantastical images here, a paper on mythical creatures as well (among others).
Aldrovandi was instrumental in establishing the botanical gardens in Bologna and his alma mater there awarded him the first Professorial chair in natural science. However, even with a sympathetic view towards this stereotypical renaissance polymath, much of his work is erroneous at best and positively surreal at times. The images here are from Erbario Alchemico, a 26 page illustrated manuscript that purports to document many of the important plants associated with alchemy.
- The University of Bologna retains some 3,500 of Aldrovandi's manuscripts and Erbario Alchemico is online at their librit website [click on the second title from the top to launch the viewing browser]
- The italian-only Aldrovandi website. (they appear to have about 18 manuscripts online in the archives section now)
- Some biographical information.
- Misteraitch's entries on Aldrovandi at Giornale Nuovo: one, two.