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Daniel Good Rare Books and Engravings

1813 Joh. W. von Goethe & Alex. Von Humboldt; Comparative view of Mountains - Earth sciences, map

1813 Joh. W. von Goethe & Alex. Von Humboldt; Comparative view of Mountains - Earth sciences, map

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Esquisse des principales hauteurs des deux continens dressée par Mr. de Göthe,... d'après l'ouvrage de Mr. de Humboldt, publié en 1807 sous le titre d'Essai sur la géographie des plantes…

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832). Cartographer.

Using information from: Humboldt, Alexander von (1769-1859).

32 x 27 cm on a leaf measuring 47 x 55 cm.

Extremely rare example of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s comparative chart to depict the relative height of mountains, thus defining a cartographic style that would flourish throughout the remainder of the 19th century.

This map is extremely scarce. It was issued and sold independently in Paris, 1813.

Beginning in 1805, Goethe gave lectures on natural sciences to a group of Weimar women on Wednesday mornings. The audience included the Duchess Luise, Schiller's widow Charlotte and her sister Caroline von Wolzogen. Here Goethe used his image of heights on April 1, 1807 for the first time. A copy was sent to Alexander von Humboldt with a request for corrections, which he did not comply with. The height image was then stored in Goethe's archive until the Weimar publisher Friedrich Justin Bertuch became aware of it and recognized the form of visualization that was effective for the public. The publication was very well received: the sheet had to be reprinted and a little later it was also published in French with the title "Esquisse des principales hauteurs des deux continens". After the French version published in Paris, Goethe's height image was also re-engraved in London by W. J. Gardner without naming him, which has only now been proven (see ref. Wyder).

The eastern and western hemispheres were swapped in the English version, and the newly measured heights of the Himalayas have been added to the sheet. A print of this elevation without the Himalayas is owned by the American map collector David Rumsey.

Condition: Light age toning to outer margins.



Margrit Wyder: Vom Brocken zum Himalaja. Goethes „Höhen der alten und neuen Welt“ und ihre Wirkungen. In: Goethe-Jahrbuch 121 (2004), S. 141-164

Gisela Nickel: „Höhen der alten und neuen Welt bildlich verglichen“. Eine Publikation Goethes in Bertuchs Verlag. In: Friedrich Justin Bertuch (1747-1822). Verleger, Schriftsteller und Unternehmer im klassischen Weimar. Hrsg. von Gerhard R. Kaiser u. Siegfried Seifert. Tübingen 2000, S. 673-688

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