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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

70: John Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum

In 1640, eleven years after Earthly Paradise, Parkinson published his monumental Theatrum Botanicum (The Theatre of Plants). With over 3,800 plants discussed on 1,688 pages, it is the most complete English botanical treatise of its time, and remained a standard reference for over a century. Parkinson dedicated a double-spread to the pineapple (displayed here), including woodcut images of two healthy specimens – one whole with leaves and stalk, the other cut in half – entitled, ‘Anna seu Pina: The West Indian delitious Pines’. Parkinson considered the fruit’s exquisite and unique taste to be an important defining characteristic, describing it ‘as if rosewater, wine and sugar were mixed together’.

Private collection

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