Mozart &
Material Culture

Souvenirs

Thought to have originated in central and southern Africa, watermelons were introduced into Europe by the mid-tenth century; chiefly they were cultivated in Mediterranean countries. The first color sketches of watermelons in Europe are found in medieval manuscripts of the Tacuinum Sanitatis, a guide to health living based on an eleventh-century Arabic text by Ibn Butlan of Baghdad.[1] 

Giovanni Stanchi, Still Life with Watermelon, late 17th century (privately owned)

Giovanni Stanchi, Still Life with Watermelon, late 17th century (privately owned)

[1] See Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas, The Cambridge World History of Food (Cambridge, 2000), i.306-30, and Kathleen Hoeniger, ‘The Illuminated Tacuinum Sanitatis Manuscripts from Northern Italy ca. 1380-1400: Sources, Patrons, and the Creation of a New Pictorial Genre’ in Visualizing Medieval Medicine and Natural History, 1200-1550, eds. Jean Ann Givens, Karen Reeds and Alain Touwaide (Aldershot, 2006), 51-81.