Nikolaus-Friedrich Eisenberger, Snake’s Head Fritillary

Nikolaus-Friedrich Eisenberger, Snake’s Head Fritillary

Nikolaus-Friedrich Eisenberger (1707-77)
Snake's Head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris
About 1750-73
Watercolour
Museum no. E.4107-1911

Eisenberger was a painter and engraver who worked in the German city of Nuremberg. He seems to have specialised in botanical subjects. Eisenberger follows botanical convention by including a dissection of the flower. As the inscription suggests ('ad viv. fec.'), it was drawn from life. This drawing is livelier than illustrations intended for scientific publications.

An engraving of this drawing appeared on plate 25 in the first volume of Hortus Nitidissimis (published 1750-68) , for which Christoph Trew commissioned some of the drawings from local illustrators. This was not a scientific work; its subtitle translates as 'The flower-garden in finest bloom throughout the year, or pictures of the most beautiful flowers’.

Celebrated in one sixteenth century book for 'beautifieing... our gardens, and the bosoms of the beautifull', the Snake's Head Fritillary has been a favourite of botanical illustrators and, though it had no medicinal use, it even appeared in herbals.

This drawing can be found in Print Room Box DP3.