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Ernst Haeckel

Ernst Haeckel, the turn-of-the-century biologist, naturalist, professor, and artist, was an ardent Darwinist, a denouncer of religious doctrine, and a writer of philosophical treatises. He coined terms still in common use today, such as phylumstem cell, and ecology. He discovered, described, and named thousands of new species, depicting them in sketches and watercolors as notable for their artistic mastery as they are for their celebration of nature’s symmetry and diversity. Of course, some of his theories have aged more poorly: his passionate Darwinism bled into the rising fascist doctrine in his native Germany, and he became a leading proponent of scientifically justified racism. But, at a moment when the planet’s biodiversity is dwindling, allow us to focus on the beauty of his images and the lasting legacy of his contributions to science. Here is a peek into Taschen’s forthcoming The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel (out December, too big for a stocking but still perfect for the burgeoning biologist in your life).