Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff

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Hercule Florence : Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff (around 1828)

Baron Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff (also Langsdorf , Russian also Grigori Iwanowitsch Langsdorf , Григорий Иванович Лангсдорф; born April 18, 1774 in Wöllstein , Rheinhessen ; † June 29, 1852 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German-Russian doctor , naturalist and researcher. Its official botanical author abbreviation is “ Langsd. "


Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff's place of birth Wöllstein was in what was then the Duchy of Nassau-Usingen . His father, Johann Gottlieb Emil, was senior bailiff in Lahr and most recently Vice-Chancellor at the Cassationshof of the Grand Duchy of Baden in Bruchsal . The family had not made use of the title of nobility that they had been given since 1375; several members of the family, including Georg Heinrich, renewed their nobility through personal merits or the special favor of their sovereigns.

Langsdorff attended school in Buchsweiler in Alsace and the grammar school in Idstein . He started studying medicine in Göttingen and graduated with a doctorate as early as 1797 at the age of 23. He then accompanied Prince Christian August von Waldeck-Pyrmont (1744–1798) to Lisbon and, after the Prince's death in 1801, joined the auxiliary troops in the campaign against Spain as a doctor. After the Peace of Amiens in March 1802, he returned to Germany. In 1803 he was elected a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . Through the contacts he made with Russian scientists in Germany, he took part in the Krusenstern expedition to Russian America and Japan with the sailing ship Nadeschda . He recorded his impressions and experiences from the research trip in his two-volume remarks on a trip around the world between 1803 and 1807 . They appeared in Frankfurt am Main in 1812. Volume 1 describes the impressions as a participant in the Russian circumnavigation under Adam Johann von Krusenstern (1770–1846). His reports are among the earliest and best scientific sources on the subject. The books contain many boards with clear illustrations (including the first view of San Francisco ).

Apartment of Herr von Langsdorff in Mandioca near Rio de Janeiro, painted by Thomas Ender, 1817–1818

After his return he became a councilor and adjunct at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg . From 1813 Langsdorff acted in addition to his scientific work as the Russian consul general in Brazil . In 1822 he sailed with 90 recruited emigrants, including the two-wheeler inventor Karl Drais as a surveyor, to his Mandioca estate near Rio de Janeiro. He had acquired this estate in 1816 and wanted to develop it into a model estate and promote colonization. The two Bavarian natural scientists Spix and Martius were on this estate in 1817.

From 1824 to 1828 Langsdorff undertook a long expedition to Brazil, in which several zoologists and botanists took part. At times the painters Johann Moritz Rugendas and Hercule Florence also took part in this expedition. After many difficulties and adventures, he was critically ill and mentally confused and had to break off the expedition. He suffered from cerebral typhus and malaria .

In 1830 Langsdorff returned to Germany with his family and lived first in Baden-Baden and then in Freiburg . Langsdorff died in Freiburg in 1852, having never fully recovered after his expedition to Brazil. His handwritten reports, diaries and illustrations for this expedition are kept in the State Archives of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg . Langsdorff collected insects, birds and plants in Brazil. Species first described by Langsdorff are given the abbreviation "Langsd." In the biological nomenclature .

As early as 1808 he was appointed a corresponding member of the mathematical-physical class of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , and in 1823 he was appointed an external member.

One of his sons was Georg von Langsdorff , who took part in the revolution in 1848 and later worked for prophylaxis in dentistry.


The genus Langsdorffia Mart. has been named after him. Furthermore the moss species Mittenothamnium langsdorffii Hook. and Thamniopsis langsdorffii Hook. named in his honor. In 1821, Coenraad Jacob Temminck dedicated the name of the breast ribbon thread elf ( Discosura langsdorffi ). A toucan, the Langsdorffarassari ( Selenidera reinwardtii langsdorffii Wagler , 1827) was named after Langsdorff.

In his birthplace Wöllstein , the name of a street reminds of the scientist.


  • Remarks on a trip around the world in the years 1803 to 1807 , 2 volumes, Frankfurt am Main 1812 ( digitized ; also abridged version as e-text )
  • Comments on Brazil. With conscientious instruction for emigrating Germans , Heidelberg 1821 ( digitized at SUB Goettingen)


  • Hans Becher: Georg Heinrich Freiherr von Langsdorff in Brazil. Research by a German scholar in the 19th century . Reimer, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-496-00849-0 .
  • DE Berthels, Boris N. Komissarow, Tamara I. Lysenko: Materials of the Brazil expedition 1821-1829 of the academician Georg Heinrich Freiherr von Langsdorff. Full scientific description . Reimer, Berlin 1979.
  • Andreas W. Daum : German Naturalists in the Pacific around 1800. Entanglement, Autonomy, and a Transnational Culture of Expertise . In: Hartmut Berghoff, Frank Biess, Ulrike Strasser (ed.): Exploration and entanglements: Germans in Pacific Worlds from the Early Modern Period to World War I . Berghahn Books, New York 2019, pp. 79-102 (English).
  • Michael C. Frank: Fear of cultural influence. Staging of the border in 19th century travel literature . Transcript, Bielefeld 2006, ISBN 3-89942-535-9 .
  • Georg Christoph Hamberger (greeting), Johann Georg Meusel (arrangement): von Langsdorf (Georg Heinrich) . In: Johann Samuelansch (Hrsg.): Das Gelehre Teutschland, or Lexicon of the now living German writers. Eighteenth volume. Meyer, Lemgo 1821, p. 482. (digitized version )
  • Friedrich RatzelLangsdorff, Georg Heinrich Freiherr von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 17, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1883, p. 689 f.
  • Rudolf Ritter : Georg Heinrich (von) Langsdorff. The circumnavigator. 1774-1852 . In: Geroldsecker Land. 32nd year 1990, pp. 42-60.
  • Christel Seidensticker: Paradise couldn't be more beautiful. With Langsdorff in Brazil. In: Geroldsecker Land. 51, 2009, pp. 113-120.
  • Ignazius Urban: Biographical Sketches II: 2. Georg Heinrich v. Langsdorff (1774-1852) and 3rd Ludwig Riedel (1790-1861). W. Engelmann, Leipzig 1894. [1]
  • Hans-Erhard Lessing : Automobility - Karl Drais and the incredible beginnings . Maxime-Verlag, Leipzig 2003.
  • little biography of Georg Heinrich Freiherr von Langsdorff
  • Dieter Strauss : The green baron: Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, the Humboldt of Brazil, and his expedition from Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon 1822-1829. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-363-16365-2-7 .
  • Ernst Heinrich Kneschke : New general German nobility lexicon published in association with several historians . Fifth volume. [Kalb - Loewenthal.], Leipzig 1864 online in the Google book search
  • Coenraad Jacob Temminck: Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux: pour servir de suite et de complément aux planches enluminées de Buffon (plate 66, figure 2 & text) . tape 4 , delivery 11. Legras Imbert et Comp., Strasbourg 1821 ( ).
  • Johann Georg Wagler: Systema Avium . Sumtibus JG Cottae, Stuttgart, Tübingen 1827 ( ).

Single references

  1. Short biography of the father: Langsdorff, Karl Christian von. Hessian biography. In: Landesgeschichtliches Informationssystem Hessen (LAGIS).
  2. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 145.
  3. ^ Andreas W. Daum: German Naturalists in the Pacific around 1800. Entanglement, Autonomy, and a Transnational Culture of Expertise . In: Hartmut Berghoff, Frank Biess, Ulrike Strasser (ed.): Exploration and entanglements: Germans in Pacific Worlds from the Early Modern Period to World War I . Berghahn, New York 2019, p. 86 f., 93 f .
  4. Robert Zander : Zander hand dictionary of plant names. Edited by Fritz Encke , Günther Buchheim, Siegmund Seybold . 13th, revised and expanded edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-8001-5042-5 .
  5. ^ Coenraad Jacob Temminck et al. a., p. 89, plate 66, figure 1.
  6. ^ Johann Georg Wagler, p. 12.

Web links

Commons : Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff  - Collection of images, videos and audio files