Old illustrated natural history books in Poland (17th‒19th century)
In the 17th century Jakub Breyne’s private printing house was thriving in Gdańsk. Its presses produced richly illustrated botanic works, illustrations of which were made by Gdańsk painters and copperplate engravers. It was also in 17th century Gdańsk that natural history prints were either made by Krzystof Gottwald, founder of a private natural history museum, or commissioned by him from Gdańsk artists. In the 18th century Tomasz Jan Schreiber’s printing house in Gdańsk produced a dozen or so illustrated scholarly works by naturalists associated with Gdańsk (e.g. Jakub Theodor Klein, Jan Filip Breyne, Jan Adam Kulmus). Illustrations for the various editions were made by Gdańsk artists or by foreign illustrators collaborating with Schreiber’s printing house. In the Baroque and Enlightenment periods there was no strong tendency in Poland to publish natural history works containing illustrations from works by western European authors. In the 19th-century printing houses in Warsaw, Vilnius and Wrocław produced illustrated books by Polish naturalists, and reprinted foreign works. Domestic nature illustrations were made by the authors of scholarly works or under their supervision. Especially worthy of note in that period are works by Ludwik Bojanus, Kazimierz Stronczyński, Ferdynand Chotomski and Konstanty Tyzenhaus. In the second half of the century Polish printers and publishers would often reach for popular works by European naturalists, presenting them to Polish readers in the form of literal translations, abstracts or compilations with copies of drawings of foreign provenance.