Beautiful microorganism illustrations celebrated in new book
A new book celebrating the science illustrations of Ernst Haeckel has surpassed its funding target on Kickstarter. The book features numerous drawings of microorganisms by the German zoologist and naturalist who identified thousands of new species during his career.
Haeckel’s other contributions to science include coining the terms ecology, phylum, phylogeny and Protista; but he was also an accomplished artist, publishing more than 100 color illustrations of Earth’s fauna and flora in his collection Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature).
Many of his illustrations were of organisms he had first described. Though Haeckel worked in sketches in watercolor, those illustrations chosen for Kunstformen der Natur were adapted for print by lithographer Adolf Giltsch.
As is evident from many of his illustrations, Haeckel was particularly interested in symmetry: a trait exemplified by his microorganism works in particularly.
His subjects include larger organisms, such as jellies, antelope, frogs, bats and hummingbirds. Conifers, ferns, mosses and lichens were among his illustrations of plants.
Though he had a major impact on the worlds of art and science, not all of his work has stood the test of time. The theory of recapitulation he espoused hasn’t been deemed scientifically credible since the mid–20th century. This was the idea that the development of an animal embryo mirrors that of the evolution of the adult stages of the animal’s ancestors.
The new book is simply titled Haeckel. Its focus on microorganisms is in keeping with its minimal, coffee table-friendly design. As well as the illustrations, it includes accompanying written descriptions translated from German. These are presumably Haeckel’s writings, though this isn’t made explicit on Kickstarter.
A black hard cover version boasts a gold hot foil stamp. A softcover alternative is bound by a black linen strap. A large, wide-format Panorama Edition featuring 12 sheets is also in the works. Individual posters are also available, including those of larger organisms. There are a number of tote bags and travel mugs, too – presumably quick wins from the point of view of the sellers.
Do note that Haeckel’s work is now in the public domain, so should you wish to compile your own book or create your own poster instead, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you. A gallery of his prints is available on Wikipedia.
The project is the work of Tim Hippmann, who has form in creating books and other print works based on historical source material. Kickstarter rewards begin at €15 (US$17) for a digital copy of the hardcover book, increasing to €29 ($32) for a softcover physical copy and €45 ($50) for the hard cover.
Should all go to plan, books are due to be delivered in May. You can see the campaign video below.