Monday, July 27, 2009

Beautiful Botanicals

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(Alexander von Humboldt )
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I've always had a thing for botanical prints and the collection by Alexander von Humbolt during his exploration of the America's have always been among my favorites.
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Alexander von Humboldt is widely respected as one of the founders of modern geography and biogeography. He was a great explorer and collected exhaustive data in the areas of geomagnetism, meteorology, climatology, geology, mineralogy, oceanography, zoology, botany, ethnography, physiology, and linguistics! His understanding of the link between living things and their environment proved a key inspiration for Darwin, who called him "the greatest travelling scientist who ever lived".
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In 1799 Humboldt started his South American expedition with French botanist Aimé Bonpland and during five years through present-day Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico and documented some 4,300 species. He and Bonpland collected over 4,000 botanical specimens which they preserved through a variety of ingenious methods. He also made copious drawings of the plants he saw (more than 400 drawings, using graphite pencil or pen). When Humboldt returned home a team of engravers and colourists - selected by him - worked on the drawings, and because of the size and intricacy of the task, it took nearly 30 years for them to be published in their entirety -- a massive 34 volume work that remained unfinished at his death.
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Humboldt was born 1769 in Berlin, Germany – he died 1859.
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To coincide with the 150th anniversary of Humboldt’s death Prestel International is publishing a book entitiled - Alexander Von Humboldt: The Botanical Exploration of the Americas. I'm sure it would appeal to anyone who appreciates fine art and/or botanical illustration - like me!!
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(Above info - in part - courtesy of Botanical Illustration)
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7 comments:

Simply Mel said...

A true talent that should be commemorated...the illustrations are so incredibly beautiful.

Piecefulafternoon said...

We used to live in Humboldt County, CA - must have been named after him.

Lovely prints.

Content in a Cottage said...

Sabina...I want someone to make a movie about his life. Wouldn't that be fascinating? Thanks for the history and botany lessons. Wonderful post! ♥Rosemary

Honeygo Beasley said...

I love botanical prints, too. My date book features botanical prints with birds (The Nesting 2009 Calendar)

"Birds! Birds!
Ye are beautiful things,
with your earth treading feet
and your cloud clearing wings!"

- Eliza Cook

Sabina said...

I would love to see a PBS special on his life or a well made mini-series like HBO did on John Adams. Thanks for commenting Rosemary!!

Thanks too Cindy for the lovely poem!!

Ann said...

Lovely botanical prints... he is so talented.

Casey Maroni said...

I'm quite sure we had some books with botanical prints of about the same time. It's funny that just last week i went to a herbarium that had over 70,000 plant specimens. I guess Santa Rosa did have a large effect on my life.

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