Humboldt (1808)

Alexander von Humboldt


One of the great names of early nineteenth century science was the German naturalist and explorer, Alexander von Humboldt(1769-1859), who, in his long life, wrote, many prestigious books, among them an encyclopedic work about the geography, geology, zoology, and botany of Central and South America, the result of five years of exploration and collecting, often under very testing conditions.

In this great project he was co-authored by the Frenchman, Aime Bonpland(1773-1858), and the text of their thirty volume masterpiece is partly French, partly Latin. The library is fortunate to have two of the volumes on botany. Published in Paris in 1808 and 1809 under the title Plantes Equinoxiales, each of these large folios has the text first, followed by over 50 plates. In the production of this work, the authors had the assistance of the most distiguished artists and engravers of the day.

The plate shown here illustrates a pasiflora and was drawn by Pierre Jean François Turpin (1775-1840), possibly the greatest botanical genius of all the French botanical painters of his day.