Art and Biology: Ernst Haeckel’s Masterpieces

Ernst Haeckel, the turn-of-the-century biologist, naturalist, professor, and artist, was an ardent Darwinist, a denouncer of religious doctrine, and a writer of philosophical treatises. He coined terms still in common use today, such as phylum, stem cell, and ecology. He discovered, described, and named thousands of new species, depicting them in sketches and watercolors as notable for their artistic mastery as they are for their celebration of nature’s symmetry and diversity. Of course, some of his theories have aged more poorly: his passionate Darwinism bled into the rising fascist doctrine in his native Germany, and he became a leading proponent of scientifically justified racism. But, at a moment when the planet’s biodiversity is dwindling, allow us to focus on the beauty of his images and the lasting legacy of his contributions to science. Here is a peek into Taschen’s forthcoming The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel (out December, too big for a stocking but still perfect for the burgeoning biologist in your life). 

Mollusca-Cephalopoda, plate 54. Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Anthropoid, plate 47. Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Cnidarians, from Art Forms in Nature, 1899–1904, plate 8 Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Monograph on the Medusae, vol. 1, 1879, plate 1 Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Mammalia-chiroptera, plate 67. Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Sauropsida-Lepidosauria, plate 79. Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

ungi – Club fungi, from Art Forms in Nature, 1899–1904, plate 63 Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Cnidarians and Scyphozoans, from Art Forms in Nature, 1899–1904, plate 28 Copyright: © TASCHEN Köln/Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen


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