At the dawn of the 19th-century, the Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt was granted permission to charter an expedition to Spain's colonies in the New World. Over the course of five years, Humboldt would travel to the Orinoco and Amazon rivers, predict the agricultural and commercial potential of Cuba, climb higher in the Andes than anyone before him, and acknowledge the achievements of the ancient indigenous American civilizations. And he recorded it all in a series of diaries. On occasion of the 250th anniversary of Humboldt's birth, the drawings from these diaries are now available in a large format, slip-cased edition. Structured thematically, the 450 illustrations have been painstakingly reproduced, complete with handwritten notes, ink stains and water spots. Humboldt drew everything he saw – Incan ruins, electric eels, the transit of Mercury, silver mines, and ocean currents. In addition to being remarkably well preserved, these drawings offer tremendous insight into Humboldt's prescient observations. Featuring commentary by a renowned expert on Humboldt's work, this breathtaking volume will bring to life one of history's most accomplished thinkers, while providing fascinating reading for anyone interested in history and nature.
Ottmar Ette is Chair of the Department of Romance Literature at the University of Potsdam. He is a member of the Academy of Europe and an honorary member of the Modern Language Association of America. Julia Maier is an art historian and Romance philologist at the University of Potsdam, Germany.