Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae)
  • Ernst Haeckel
    born: Potsdam, Kingdom of Prussia (present-day Germany) ; died: Jena, Weimar Republic (present-day Germany) ; active: Germany
  • Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae), 1904
  • Kunstformen der Natur (Art forms in Nature)
  • Where object was made: Germany
  • chromolithograph
  • Image Dimensions Height/Width: 287 x 205 mm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 11 5/16 x 8 1/16 in
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 364 x 273 mm
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 14 5/16 x 10 3/4 in
    Mat Dimensions: 19 x 14 in matted with 2017.0054.02
  • Anonymous gift
  • Not on display
  • 2017.0054.01
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World", 27-Mar-2018
Scientist and artist Ernst Haeckel was one of Charles Darwin’s most outspoken supporters. Haeckel rendered natural forms in a style that exaggerated symmetry and the underlying geometrical structure of plant forms. The chromolithographs illustrating his Kunstformen der Natur (Art forms in Nature) have influenced generations of artists. Haeckel coined the appealing but false tenet that states “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” or the idea that the cellular development of an organism summarizes the organism’s evolution. Through his artwork, he suggested the perfectibility of biological organisms, which has implicated him as an early formulator of eugenics.

These are the only three plates in Kunstformen der Natur that deal specifically with plant forms, with much of the volume illustrating invertebrates. The 100 plates of Kunstformen der Natur had a major impact on the decorative arts as well as the later years of the Art Nouveau movement.