Lithography plates by Ernst Haeckel

Lithographic plates, by German biologist Ernst Haeckel, are a legend in both the scientific and art world. His plates are thought to be one of the best examples of the interaction between science and art. They show that science can be beautiful when discoveries are presented with an artistic aesthetic in mind, and that art can be more than the work of artists - it can be present in the geometric shapes of nature all around us.

Ernst Haeckel's sketches led to the production of a thousand engravings over the course of his career. A hundred of them were selected to be in the book Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature), where Heackel's sketches were engraved on a lithographer by Adolf Giltsch, and then printed. The images below are from this book.

It was absolutely impossible to chose which prints to present below, and which ones to leave out. They were all incredibly beautiful, and I felt like putting up all hundred prints. But in the end, I chose the ones I liked best, so that your computer doesn't collapse with the weight of downloading 200 MB worth of images.

All these images were downloaded via the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and they have the entire book online to read, and download for free. Seriously, you should check out that website, because their collection is amazing. I could stay lost there forever, turning the digital pages of some of the most beautiful illustrations of nature ever made.

(Click on an image to view a larger version.)


  1. The frogs and the geckos and oh gawd they are amazing, I haven't seen these in aeons!

    Thank you for the link..there goes me wasting time when i should be doing something constructive ....jaysus they have Goethe and Schiller

    1. I know, that website is a time suck. Such beautiful books. Every time I visit, I find a thousand new things to see.

    so wonderful it is....
    Can i use this on my backside bedroom wall.
    lithographic printing