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Gherardo Cibo

1512 Genoa – 1600 Rocca Contrada

Born into an aristocratic family, Gherardo Cibo spent his youth at the Papal Court and was entrusted by Emperor Charles V with military and diplomatic missions in Germany, France and Flanders. In 1540, however, he withdrew to Rocca Contrada, where he was to spend the rest of his life in voluntary seclusion. From an early age Cibo took a keen interest in natural sciences, attending lectures in botany at the University of Bologna. He also distinguished himself as an illustrator, in which capacity he was held in high regard by contemporary scientists such as Ulisse Aldrovandi and Pietro Andrea Matteoli. His illustrated Herbarium at the British Library, in which meticulously drawn plant studies of superb quality are accompanied by finely executed gouache landscapes, is justifiably regarded as one of the most significant scientific publications of the sixteenth century. The Herbarium also proved crucial in the compilation of the large body of landscape drawings dating to between 1560 and 1600, which are now in prominent museum collections.