Dioscorides - Verbena Recta and Verbena Supina, 1224

Dioscorides (Anazarbus, Cilicia, about 40 AD - 90 AD)

Leaf from an Arabic translation of De Materia Medica by Dioscorides: Verbena Recta (Recto) and Verbena Supina (Verso), 1224

Ink and watercolor on paper, 29.5 x 21.5 cm (11 5/8 x 8 7/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number



  • Dioscorides (Anazarbus, Cilicia, about 40 AD - 90 AD) - author
  • Abdallah Ibn Al-Fadl (Mesopotamian (Baghdad)) - scribe
  • Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (Al-Hira, 809 - 873) - translator


From a manuscript still preserved in Isanbul at the Suleymaniye Library, De Materia Medica copied by Abdallah ibn al-Fadl (Ms. Aya Sofya 3703).
Several leaves had been removed from the manuscript and entered Parisian collections by about 1910.
This leaf and twenty-four others were in the collection of the art collector, dealer, and publicist Léonce Rosenberg (1879-1947), Paris by 1913.
Rosenberg loaned this leaf to the Berlin Photographic Company's New York office for their Exhibition of Muhammadan Miniature Painting on 22 February 1914, through the German-American medievalist Rudolf Meyer-Riefstahl (1880-1936), Paris.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the Berlin Photographic Company, New York for $400 on 24 February 1914, through the American art historian Bernard Berenson (1865-1959) and the art collector and design theorist Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935).


Berlin Photographic Co. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Muhammadan Miniature Painting (New York, 22 February 1914), pp. 11-12, lot 6. (as Baghdad, by Abdullah ibn al-Fadl, 1222)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), pp. 167-68, no. 4. (as Mesopotamian, 1222; as created by Abdullah ibn al-Fadl, text by Hundin ibn Ishaq, translation of De Materia Medica by Dioscorides)
George L. Stout. Treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1969), p. 148. (generally discusses the Tapestry Room miniatures, museum nos. P19w50-55)
Yasuko Horioka et al. Oriental and Islamic Art: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1975), pp. 101-03, no. 43. (as Mesopatamian (Baghdad), 1224; as created by Abdullah ibn al-Fadl)
Rollin van N. Hadley (ed.). The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner 1887-1924 (Boston, 1987), pp. 512-14.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), p. 170, ill. (as Baghdad, 1224)
Benedict Cuddon. "A Field Pioneered by Amateurs: The Collecting and Display of Islamic Art in Early Twentieth-Century Boston." Muqarnas (2013), pp. 17-18.

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These illustrations of medicinal plants were added to a manuscript translation of a medical treatise by Dioscurides, originally written in the first century AD. The Greek text was frequently translated into Arabic; this sheet is from a copy by Abdallah ibn al-Fadl which is dated 1224.

Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 170.