Bildnisse mit Berg: Goethe und Alexander von Humboldt

  • Renato G. Mazzolini
Schlagworte: Chimborazo, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



Sowohl von Alexander von Humboldt als von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe existiert ein Altersportrait, das sie in anachronistischer Weise vor der Kulisse eines Berges zeigt, der früh in ihrer persönlichen und wissenschaftlichen Laufbahn eine wichtige Rolle gespielt hatte. Für Goethes war dies der Vesuv, fü Humboldt der Chimborazo. Dieser Beitrag untersucht die zahlreichen konzeptionellen und formalen Parallelen der beiden Gemälde, die es wahrscheinlich machen, dass das Goethe-Bildnis als Vorbild für das Humboldt-Portrait diente.


Both Alexander von Humboldt and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe have been portrayed in their later years anachronistically before the background of a mountain that had been of high significance in their earlier biography and carreer. For Goethe this was the Vesuvio, and for Humboldt the Chimborazo. This paper examines the numerous conceptual and formal parallels between the two paintings which make it probable that the Goethe portrait served as a blueprint for the portrait of Humboldt.


Renato G. Mazzolini
was born in Milan (1945). With a degree in Philosophy from Milan State University (1970), he specialised in the history of science at the Domus Galilaeana in Pisa (1971 – 74) and obtained his Dr. Phil. Hist. from Bern University (1979). In 1981 he was awarded the Henry E. Sigerist Prize. He has been Wellcome Research Fellow at Oxford University (three years), Fellow of the Humboldt-Stiftung at Göttingen (22 months) and Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington (one year). Since 1990 Mazzolini is Professor of the History of Science at the Faculty of Sociology of Trento University. Specialised in the history of physiology, microscopy and physical anthropology for the period 1640 – 1850 he has published a considerable number of contributions in these research areas. The italian historian has also edited the unpublished correspondence of several physiologists and natural historians of the 18th and early 19th century. In the last ten years Mazzolini has directed several projects financed by the CNR and the MURST concerning science in the public sphere.
Mazzolini, R. G. (2004). Bildnisse mit Berg: Goethe und Alexander von Humboldt . HiN - Alexander Von Humboldt Im Netz. Internationale Zeitschrift für Humboldt-Studien, 5(08), 37-55.