skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

4.59 'Simplicissimus' cartoon

< Back to Introduction

In 1909 the German satirical magazine Simplicissimus celebrated the centenary of Darwin’s birth with a whimsical cartoon by its resident artist Thomas Theodor Heine, titled ‘Zu Darwins hundertstem Geburtstag’ (‘On Darwin’s hundredth birthday’). Darwin, now a dweller in the blue beyond, squats on the branch of a tree, protectively embracing an orangutan and a chimpanzee. He is an old, kindly-looking but slightly puzzled figure, apparently wearing shabby trousers and carpet slippers. Below him, still living on earth and much more formally dressed, is his foremost German disciple and champion, Ernst Haeckel, appearing through a gap in the clouds. ‘Professor Haeckel überbringt dem Juvilar einen Heiligenschein ins Jenseits’: he is delivering a (presumably secular) halo, ceremoniously placed on a cushion, to Darwin on his perch in the next world. Beginning with Generelle Morphologie der Organismen in 1866, Haeckel had published many works which developed Darwin’s theories, and in 1907 he had founded the Phyletisches Museum in Jena, to explain evolution to the public. 

Simplicissimus, based in Munich, was known for the stylistic boldness and modernity of its lithographic cartoons, based on Jugendstil and Japanese prints. Its satires on the government, the military and German society were equally bold, and Heine briefly went to prison in 1898 for a cartoon insulting the Kaiser. As a Jew he fled Germany in 1933, and ultimately settled in Sweden. 

  • physical location Darwin archive, Cambridge University Library. A typed label on the back indicates that this copy came from the Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin. 

  • accession or collection number DAR 225.184 

  • copyright holder Syndics of Cambridge University Library 

  • originator of image Thomas Theodor Heine (signed with monogram top left) 

  • date of creation 1909 

  • computer-readable date 1909-01-01 to 1909-02-14 

  • medium and material colour lithography 

  • references and bibliography Simplicissimus 46 (15 Feb. 1909), p. 792 


In this section: