Monday, May 16, 2011

Ernst Haeckel and some of his favorite critters

Ernst Haeckel portrait

Ernst Haekel (February 16, 1834 – August 9, 1919), the famed German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist, whose book "Art Forms in Nature" filled with lovely 19th century scientific illustrations of biology has inspired many of my prints. This month the mad scientists of etsy challenge theme is Ernst Haeckel, so here we have the man himself, surrounded by several of the creatures he depicted. Clockwise from the top we have: rugosa, a foraminifer (or foram), a tubularid hydroid, homo sapiens (Ernst Haeckel), a dinoflagellate, and a sea slug or nudibranch.

top Haeckel

This is an original lino block print printed in various colours, water-based block printing ink on Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. The first edition is limited to four prints The sheets are 30.5 cm by 30.5 cm (12 inches by 12 inches).

Haeckel detail

I had to choose a nudibranch because they are so spectacular looking, like a sea cucumber dressed for carnivale. There are some weird looking creatures in the ocean. When tasked with documenting what we see with a submersible ROV, we are often left with little option but to type 'critter' or even more vaguely 'life'. I can't help but recall an animated short I saw at the NFB with , 'Chloe the sea cucumber' which was in fact weirder than any critter I've seen yet.

Haeckel seems to have a Louis Riel thing going on. The print is based on a photo of him, clearly after doing field work, in 1866 (hence the posture, leaning on the table).

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