Each week, we bring you the backstory of work featured in our collection, written by a member of our curatorial team.

Source: www.biolib.de (GDFL)

by Poppy SimpsonHead of Content and Curation

Another week, another partnership!

Meural has teamed up with The Public Domain Review to bring you curious and compelling visual stories from across the history of art, literature, and ideas.

The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project with a focus on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, and it aims to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer—an archive of content which truly celebrates the scope and diversity of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it.

We kick off with the ornate and mesmerizing works of Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919), a German biologist, philosopher, and artist.

“In 1904 Haeckel published his masterpiece, the visually dazzling Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature), a book of lithographic and halftone prints expressing his unique ideas on natural form. With the assistance of Jena artist-lithographer Adolf Giltsch, Haeckel produced one hundred plates depicting the forms of nature, focusing mainly on the intricate world of marine life, such as anemones, mollusks, and jellies. With this book Haeckel wanted to create an “aesthetics of nature” and to show how Darwin’s idea of an incessant struggle for existence was in fact producing an endless beauty and variety of forms.” (The Public Domain Review)

Enjoy!

And if you like Haeckel’s work, why not try a different approach to visualising biological forms: the bold, blue cyanotype impressions of British botanist Anna Atkins.