It was conceived by Basilius Besler (1561-1629), a Nurembug apothecary and botanist, and commissioned by Bishop Johann Konrad von Gemmingen as a horticultural record of the famous gardens of the Prince Bishop of Eichstatt. It was divided into four sections, one for each of the seasons, and was comprised almost entirely of ornamental plants. The Hortus Eystenttensis contained 367 copper engraved plates in Large or Imperial Folio size. 300 copies of the work were issued in the First Edition in both an uncolored basic version and in a hand colored luxury version, but due to the high cost of the luxury version, almost all of the 300 were uncolored. The work took 16 years to complete and employed a team of ten artists and engravers, the most important of those being Wolfgang Kilian.