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Detail from engraved frontispiece to 'Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris'

Detail from engraved frontispiece to 'Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris'

Author: Parkinson, John

Medium: Engraving

Date: 1629

Shelfmark: C.131.g.18

Item number: Frontispiece

Length: 310

Width: 190

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Print

This is John Evelyn’s own copy of one of the best known: ‘Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris’, published in 1629 by a London apothecary called John Parkinson. Since the word ‘paradise’ comes from the ancient Persian for an enclosed park, the Latin title of Parkinson’s book translates as a pun on his name: ‘The earthly paradise of park-in-sun’.

The frontispiece shows Adam and Eve tending a lush Garden of Eden in which they are dwarfed by exotic flowers. In the middle distance is a plant unlikely to be found in any apothecary’s garden: the Sheep of Tartary. Also known as the Borametz, this mythical hybrid of plant and animal grew on an umbilical stem and bore a fruit like a melon. The fruit burst open to reveal a lamb with fleece of the purest white. The legend goes back to classical antiquity and probably has its origins in the ‘wool-bearing tree’ described by Plato - known to us as cotton.

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