Ernst Haeckel  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"In late August 1900, when Haeckel travelled from Jena to Java, he stopped briefly in Paris to visit the World Fair where he walked through one of his radiolarians. The French architect René Binet had used Haeckel’s images of the microscopic sea creatures as an inspiration for the Porte Monumentale, the huge metal entrance gate that he had designed for the fair. In the previous year Binet had written to Haeckel that ‘everything about it’ – from the smallest detail to the general design – ‘has been inspired by your studies.’ The fair made Art Nouveau famous across the world, and almost 50 million visitors walked through Haeckel’s magnified radiolarian. Binet himself later published a book called Esquisses Décoratives (Decorative Sketches) which showed how Haeckel’s illustrations could be translated into interior decoration. Tropical jellyfish became lamps, single-celled organisms transmuted into light switches and microscopic views of cell tissues turned into wallpaper patterns. Architects and designers, Binet urged, should ‘turn to the great laboratory of Nature’."--The Invention of Nature (2015) by Andrea Wulf

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Related e



Ernst Haeckel (1834 — 1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and "fantastic artist".


Ernst Haeckel named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including phylum, phylogeny, ecology and the kingdom Protista (details below). Haeckel promoted Charles Darwin's work in Germany and developed the controversial "recapitulation theory" claiming that an individual organism's biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species' entire evolutionary development, or phylogeny: "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny".

The published artwork of Haeckel includes over 100 detailed, multi-color illustrations of animals and sea creatures (see: Kunstformen der Natur, "Artforms of Nature"). As a philosopher, Ernst Haeckel wrote Die Welträthsel (1895-1899, in English, The Riddle of the Universe, 1901), the genesis for the term "world riddle" (Welträthsel); and Freedom in Science and Teaching) to support teaching evolution.


Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species had immense popular influence, but although its sales exceeded its publisher's hopes it was a technical book rather than a work of popular science: long, difficult and with few illustrations. One of Haeckel's books did a great deal to explain his version of "Darwinism" to the world. It was a bestselling, provocatively illustrated book in German, titled Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, published in Berlin in 1868, and translated into English as The History of Creation in 1876. It was frequently reprinted until 1926.

Haeckel argued that human evolution consisted of precisely 22 phases, the 21st – the "missing link" — being a halfway step between apes and humans. He even formally named this missing link Pithecanthropus alalus, translated as "ape man without speech."

Haeckel's entire literary output was extensive, working as a professor at the University of Jena for 47 years, and even at the time of the celebration of his 60th birthday at Jena in 1894, Haeckel had produced 42 works with nearly 13,000 pages, besides numerous scientific memoirs and illustrations.

Haeckel's monographs include:

  • Radiolaria (1862)
  • Siphonophora (1869)
  • Monera (1870)
  • Calcareous Sponges (1872)

As well as several Challenger reports:

  • Deep-Sea Medusae (1881)
  • Siphonophora (1888)
  • Deep-Sea Keratosa (1889)
  • Radiolaria (1887) — illustrated with 140 plates and enumerating over four thousand (4000) new species.

Among his many books, Ernst Haeckel wrote:

  • Generelle Morphologie der Organismen : allgemeine Grundzüge der organischen Formen-Wissenschaft, mechanisch begründet durch die von C. Darwin reformirte Decendenz-Theorie. (1866) Berlin
  • Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (1868); in English The History of Creation (1876; 6th ed.: New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1914, 2 volumes)
  • Freie Wissenschaft und freie Lehre (1877), in English, Freedom in Science and Teaching, a reply to a speech in which Rudolf Virchow objected to the teaching of evolution in schools, on the grounds that evolution was an unproven hypothesis.
  • Die systematische Phylogenie (1894) — "Systematic Phylogeny", which has been considered as his best book
  • Anthropogenie: oder, Entwickelungsgeschichte des Menschen ("Anthropogeny: Or, the Evolutionary History of Man", 1874, 5th and enlarged edition 1903)
  • Die Welträthsel (1895–1899), also spelled Die Welträtsel ("world-riddle") — in English The Riddle of the Universe, 1901
  • Über unsere gegenwärtige Kenntnis vom Ursprung des Menschen (1898) — translated into English as The Last Link, 1898
  • Der Kampf um den Entwickelungsgedanken (1905) — English version, Last Words on Evolution, 1906
  • Die Lebenswunder (1904) — English The Wonders of Life a supplement to the Riddle of the Universe
  • Kristallseelen : Studien über das anorganische Leben (1917) Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf

Books of travel:

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ernst Haeckel" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools