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Italian School, early 17th century

Peony, 'Paeonia mascula' (L.) Mill. with the root of 'Paeonia officinalis' L. c. 1610-20

RCIN 919401

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This watercolour of a peony forms part of the Erbario Miniato (or ‘Illuminated Herbal’), an early seventeenth-century album of Italian botanical drawings. The herbal was assembled to assist members of a scientific academy in Rome with the correct naming and classification of plant species. The artist has depicted with great accuracy the exact configuration of the stamens, pistils and stigmas which make up the flower head of this peony. The root, however, belongs to a different species, and has been cut and inlaid into the sheet to form a composite.