It’s no small feat to become “both one of the best-loved and one of the most hated men” of an age. But Ernst Haeckel, a German naturalist and scientific illustrator who lived from 1834 to 1919, earned this mantle from his contemporaries, according to The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel, a new art collection just out from TASCHEN.
Best known as a key popularizer of Charles Darwin’s theories for German speakers, Haeckel’s captivating illustrations of life forms—from microscopic sea creatures to primates—helped propagate Darwin’s ideas far beyond an academic audience.
Controversies followed Haeckel throughout his life, and continue to shape his posthumous legacy, but for much different reasons. As a proponent of Darwin’s ideas, Haeckel provoked fierce theological opposition for defending evolutionary theory, and advocating for a biology-driven reinterpretation of human philosophy and purpose.