Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

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PISO (PIES), Willem.

(1611 – 1678)

(Born: Leiden, The Netherlands, 1611; Died: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, November 1678) Dutch physician.

Piso was educated at the Universities of Leiden and Caen, from which he received his M.D. in 1633. He then established a medical practice in Amsterdam. In 1637 Piso was sent by the Dutch West Indian Company to be the physician to Johan Maurits of Nassau, the governor of the colony in Brasil, and physician to the colony. During his extended stay, in conjunction with Markgraf, he wrote the Historia Naturalis Brasiliae, a compendium of tropical medicine, pharmacology (including the introduction of a Brasilian root into European use), and natural history. He returned to the Netherlands in 1644. By 1648 Piso had settled in Amsterdam, and there he established a medical practice.

Biographical references: Aa, Biographisch Woordenboek, 1852-78. BAB: 535, 268-281. DSB: 10, ??. Dutch Medical Biography: 1535 [by G.A. Lindeboom]. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. Kobus, Biographisch Woordenboek, 1886. NNBW. Van Andel, M.A., "Willem Piso, een baanbreker de tropischegenees-kunde", Bijdragen tot de geshiedenis der geneeskunde, 14, (1924), 239-54. Van Andel, M.A., see the introduction to "Capita nonnula de ventris fluxibus, de dysentaria, de lue indica, de ipecacuanha", in: Opuscula selecta neerlandicorum de arte medica, 14, (Amsterdam 1937), xii-xxxviii. [This introduction, which has an English translation on facing pages, is said to be the best study of Piso.]. WBI.

Historia Natvralis Brasiliae, 1648

1. Latin, 1648.
[Title contained within an engraved design: top compartment] Historia Natvralis | Brasiliae, | Auspicio et Beneficio | Jllvstrjss. I. Mavritii Com. Nassav | Jlljvs Provncjae Et Marjs Svmmj Praefectj Adornata: | In qua | Non tantum Plantae et Animalia, sed et In- | digenarum morbi, ingenia et mores describuntur et | Iconibus supra quingentas illustrantur. | [Bottom compartment:] Lvgdvn. Batavorvm, | Apud Franciscum Hackium, | et | Amstelodami, | Apud Lud. Elzeverium. 1648.

2°: *6 A-P4 Q2; (†)4 A-Z4 Aa-Oo4 Pp2; 222l.; [12], 122, [2] p.; [8], 293, [7] p., including engraved and printed titles. Profusely illustrated with woodcut illustrations of plants, animals, insects, fish and genre scenes. Page size: 380 x 250 mm.

Very scarce. Co-authored by Georg Markgraf [see note below] and edited by Joannis de Laet. The Historia Natvralis Brasiliae is a pioneer work on tropical medicine and the first illustrated natural history of Brazil. It remained until the publication of the great expeditions of the nineteenth century, the only illustrated work describing Brazilian natural history. Typical of the time, it is a sumptuous publication from the famous Dutch publisher Elzevir, and it is one of the beautiful Dutch works on Braziliana.

The work is divided into two parts: the first by Piso (pp. 1-122) provides an important account of Brazilian medicine, on page 35 giving the first account of separating yaws from syphilis. The second portion (pp. 1-293) is devoted to Markgraf's natural history studies and studies of astronomy performed at an observatory built by Nassau in his palace in Recife. It is divided into eight books: (1-3) on plants, (4), fish, (5) birds, (6) quadrupeds, (7) insects and (8) a valuable description of the North-eastern region of Brazil and its inhabitants. This last section was written by Laet and is a valuable ethnographic study. Although only brief incidental references are made to the minerals of the country, this is the first mineralogical description of this geologically rich land.

Second edition, 1658: [Title within an engraved design: top compartment] Gulielmi Pisonis | Medjcj Amstelaedamensjs | De | Indiae Utriusque | Re Naturali Et Medica | Ljbrj Qvatvordecjm, | Quorum contenta pagina sequens | exhibet. | [Bottom compartment:] Amstelaedami, | Apud Ludovicum et Danielem | Elzevirios. | A° cIo Io c lviii. 2°: [24], [1]-248, 247-327, [7], [1]-40, [1]-226, [2] p. [Cf. Hunt Botanical Catalog, 2, 302-3, no. 280; Sabin, no. 63029].

Modern translations and reprints: [1942] História Natural Do Brasil. Tradução De Mons. Dr. José Procopio De Magalhães, Edição Do Museu Paulista Comemorativa Do Cincoente. São Paulo, Imprensa Oficial do Estado, 1942. 2°: [423] p., incl. illus., facsim., tables. Contains: Jorge Marcgrave, de Liebstad (1610-1644) Escorço biográfico, por Affonso de E. Taunay included in "Comentarios" (civ p. at end) and bibliographies. "Prefacio" signed: Affonso de E. Taunay. [AzU Science Oversize QH117.M3165]. [1948] História Natural Do Brasil Ilustrada. Tradução Do Alexandre Correia, Seguida Do Texto Original, Da Biografia Do Autor E De Comentários Sôb. [São Paulo] Companhia Editora Nacional, 1948. 2°: xx, 434 p., illus. [AzU Science Oversize: QH117.P69]. [1957] História Natural E Médica Da India Ocidental, Em Cinco Livros por Guilherme Piso. Traduzida E Anotada Por Mário Lôbo Leal. Revista Por Felisberto Carneiro E Eduar. Rio de Janeiro, I. N. L., 1957. 4°: xix, 685 p., illus., facsims. Contains: "Bibliografia de Piso": p. xii-xiii. "Bibliografia sôbre Piso": p. xiii-xvi. Series: Coleção de Obras Raras, no. 5. [AzU Science QH117.P692].

Georg Markgraf (Marcgraf, Marcgrave). (Born: Liebstadt, Meissen, Germany, 20 September 1610; Died: San Paolo de Luanda, Angola, Africa, August 1644) German naturalist & traveler. Markgraf matriculated at Leiden University in 1636. Between 1638 and 1644, he took part in a military and exploratory expedition to the Dutch settlements in Brazil under the leadership of Count Maurice of Nassau. During this expedition he explored the natural history of the region thoroughly, including zoology, botany, astronomy, cartography and meteorology. He assembled collections of plants and animals. The dried plants are still preserved in the Botanical Museum, Copenhagen. He also made extensive notes and drawings of the things he encountered which were used by Jan de Laet to illustrate the Historiæ Natvralis Brasiliæ (1648). On his return from Brazil he stopped to explore Africa, but succumbed to a tropical fever there.

Bibliographical references: BL. BMC. Borba, Bibliographia Brasiliana, 1983: 2, 675-6. Garrison & Morton: 5303. Hunt Botanical Catalog: no. 244. Lichtenstein, H., "Die Werke von Marcgrave und Piso über die Naturgeschichte Brasiliens, erläutert aus den wiederaufgefundenen Originalzeichnungen", Abhandlung der Preussischen Akademie des Wissenschaften, Physicalische Abhandlung, for 1814-5 (1818), p. 201-222 & for 1817 (1819), p. 155-78 & for 1820-1 (1823), p. 237-54, 267-88 & for 1826 (1829), p. 49-65. LKG: XIV 890 & 891a. Nissen (BBI): no. 1533. Palau, Manual, 1948-77: no. 227441. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: no. 7157. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 63028 ["There are also copies on large paper."]. Whitehead, P.J.P., "The Original Drawings for the Historia Naturalis Brasiliae of Piso and Marcgrave (1648)", Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, 7, (1976), 409-22. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: p. 520. (Markgraf (Marcgraf, Marcgrave)) ADB: 20, 337-8. DSB: 9, 122-3. Engel, Dutch Zoological Cabinets, 1986: 172-3. Gudger, E.W., " Georg Marcgrave, the first student of American natural history," Popular Science Monthly, 1912, 250-74. Whitehead, P.J.P., "The biography of Georg Marcgraf and his brother Christian, translated by James Petiver," Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, 9 (1979), 301-14.