!9th century nuances of the German word 'gemälde' ...?
June 16, 2020 5:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm reading Andrea Wulf's bio of Alexander von Humboldt, and there is a discussion of Humboldt's large graphical representations of nature and ecology which he referred to as 'naturgemälde.' So apparently gemälde means portrait or picture, or something like that ... but are there nuances here that are escaping my non-German-speaking understanding? Thank you!

I was wondering too if gemälde had some more specific meaning in the context of 19th century German literature, aesthetics, philosophy, etc.
posted by carter to Science & Nature (3 answers total)
Gemälde really just means painting. 19th century German art did see a certain style of large-scale landscape painting (think Kaspar David Friedrich) but the specifics of this term in Humboldt’s philosophy are unclear to me. Here’s a whole paper on the topic though: The Idea of “Naturgemälde” in the First Volume of “Kosmos” by Alexander von Humboldt.
posted by The Toad at 5:23 AM on June 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh wow, that's very helpful, and quick!
posted by carter at 5:32 AM on June 16, 2020

Response by poster: I had not heard of Kaspar David Friedrich before, so that's an interesting connection. He is not in the index. Wulf does though mention a connection with Fredric Edwin Church and the Hudson Valley School of landscape painting in the US.
posted by carter at 5:40 AM on June 16, 2020

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