The woodblocks for Historia Naturae, Maxime Peregrinae

Factum Foundation is currently collaborating with the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp to record the series of woodblocks cut by the Flemish artist Christoffel Jegher to illustrate the 1635 treatise Historia naturae, Maxime Peregrinae (Natural History of the Americas) by the Spanish scholar Juan Eusebio Nieremberg.

One of the woodblocks from Nieremberg’s Historia Naturae, Maxima Peregrinae © Jorge Cano | Factum Foundation

Nieremberg was a Spanish Jesuit who lived from 1595 to 1658 and taught humanities, natural history, and scripture at the Colegio Imperial in Madrid. The Historia Naturae, Maxime Peregrinae, written in
Latin and published in 1635 by Balthasaris Moreti, was one of the first attempts to systematically categorise the flora and fauna of the New World. The six volumes contain more than three thousand plants, animals, and minerals.

This project to record the woodblocks was started by José Ramón Marcaida (Institute of History, CSIC), whose work on Jegher and Nieremberg aims to incorporate digital technologies into the study and reconstruction of historical objects. The first scanning session took place in November 2023, with a selection of 15 woodblocks documented using the Selene Photometric Stereo System in combination with close-range photogrammetry. The project will contribute to the understanding of these unique woodblocks, while envisioning new ways in which digital data may provide alternative modes of access and engagement for scholars, curators, and the general public.

The woodblock collection  © Jorge Cano | Factum Foundation

The armadillo woodblock © Jorge Cano | Factum Foundation

The opossum woodblock © Jorge Cano | Factum Foundation

Pedro Miró, José Ramon Marcaida and Jorge Cano inspecting one of the woodblocks © Factum Foundation

Recording with the Selene (left) and Pedro Miró recording with photogrammetry (right) © Jorge Cano | Factum Foundation


Factum Foundation wishes to thank Joost Depuydt, Curator of the Typographic Collections at the Museum Plantin-Moretus, and José Ramón Marcaida for this collaboration.