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Views: Portraying Place and Space 2nd Exhibit from the David Rumsey Map Center, January 22 - August 31, 2017

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These three views of the ecology of mountain landscapes were made by Alexander von Humboldt. In these views Humboldt shows the beginnings of his ideas of the universe as one interacting entity. He presented the environment with a holistic perception which sought to unify diverse branches of scientific knowledge and culture. This was Humboldt’s scientific cosmology - his attempt to explain the whole world based on scientific observations. His final work was in fact titled “Kosmos.”


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Tableau physique des iles Canaries. Geographie des plantes du Pic de Teneriffe, Humboldt, Alexander Von; Bonpland, Aime; Marchais, L.; de Buch, Leopold, 1817

This view appeared in the atlas that was issued as part of Humboldt and Bonpland’s Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent fait en 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 et 1804 (Paris, 1808-1834), which was published in over thirty volumes over several decades. The atlas of maps and views shows new scientific information in novel ways that had not been used before. Using a combination three dimensional view and flat diagram, Humboldt shows the names of plants and trees and the elevations they grow at on Mount Teide, a volcano on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. At over 3,718 meters, its summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic.


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Geographie des Plantes Equinoxiales. Tableau Physique des Andes et Pays Voisins, Humboldt, Alexander Von; Bonpland, Aime, 1805

This is an elevation profile of equinoctial plants, and geology of Andes Region, also using the cutaway technique. Drafted by Humboldt and centered on Mount Chimborazo. It includes 2 tables showing distribution of plants and geology in the area, including large numbers of plant families, genera, and species names corresponding to the vicinity of the equator in South America. The tables also show data about altitude, appearance of electricity, changes in weight, blueness of the sky, animals, location of the snowline, the boiling point of water, and atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and composition.


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Voyage vers la cime du Chimborazo, tenete le 24 juin 1802, Humboldt, Alexander Von; Bonpland, Aime; Marchais, L.; de Buch, Leopold, 1824

This view appeared in the atlas that was issued as part of Humboldt and Bonpland’s Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent fait en 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 et 1804 (Paris, 1808-1834), which was published in over thirty volumes over several decades. The atlas of maps and views shows new scientific information in novel ways that had not been used before. Using a combination three dimensional view and flat diagram, Humboldt shows the names of plants and trees and the elevations they grow at on Mount Chimborazo, thought at the time to be the tallest mountain in the world.