Ludovicus Nonnius's Book on the Consumption of Fish (Antwerp, 1616)

One of the more intriguing books in the Ximenez collection is an extremely learned but also practical dietary book on the consumption of fish, published in 1616 in Antwerp, and dedicated to Nicolas Rockox. The author was Ludovicus Nonnius (1553-1645), the Latinized name of Luis Nuñez, a very well-known physician and humanist who was a second generation Portuguese-Marrano immigrant in Antwerp, just like the Ximenez family. Nonnius lived in the Lange Gasthuisstraat in a house called "Het Schild van Spanje." He must have been personally known to Emmanuel Ximenez, not least because he was also a friend and family doctor of Rubens, who painted his portrait in 1626-27. Ichtyophagia discusses fish and crustaceans as food from every possible humanist and dietary perspective. It presents the opinions of ancient and modern physicians (and Nonnius himself) concerning the gustatory and nutritional value of fish, and discusses many kinds of fish in detail. Nonnius's best-known work is the Diaeteticon (1627), which is regarded as the first systematic study of food from a medical-hygienic perspective.

Florike Egmond, Leiden University

Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Ludovicus Nonnius, c. 1627, The National Gallery, London. Image: © The National Gallery.