Constantin von Ettingshausen



Noted Austrian geologist, botanist and medical doctor Constantin Freiherr von Ettingshausen is known by print collectors today for his work championing the method of nature printed botanicals.  His major contribution, Physiotypia Plantarum Austriacarum Der Naturselbstdruck...der Pflanzen, is one of the greatest works using this method.

Physiotypia Plantarum Austriacarum 1855-185, features a collection of 1,000 plates of plants in printed in transparent sepia ink.  The visual effect is one that emphasizes form and texture, and reveals minute plant structure with wonderful effect.  Printed under the supervision of Alois Auer (1813- 1869), director of the Imperial Printing House in Vienna, the selections include leaves, flower fern fronds and grasses, some with stems and roots, depicting their detailed components in an artistically appealing manner. The plant material was used to create an impression on a soft lead plates which were then steel faced for the printing process. This method became obsolete by the early 20th century, replaced by more practical photographic methods. 

Von Ettingshausen's interests are underlined by the work's subtitle: ...with particular reference to veining in the surface organs of plants. Born in Vienna, von Ettinghausen became a professor of botany and natural history at the city's medical and surgical military academy in 1854. In 1888, he published a description of the fossil flora at Vegetable Creek in New South Wales after studying a sedimentary layer discovered by tin miners. This study became the foundation for his theory that all of the world's flora is related.

In 1871, Constantin von Ettingshausen was appointed professor of botany at Graz, a position he occupied until his death in 1897.