- Grigori Ivanovitch Langsdorff
Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, Baron de Langsdorff (b.
Wöllstein, Germany, April 8, 1774; d. Freiburg, Germany, June 9, 1852) was a Prussian aristocrat, politicianand naturalist. He lived in Russiaand was better known by his Russian name, "Grigori (Gregory) Ivanovitch". He was a member and correspondent of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciencesand a respected physician, graduated in medicine and natural history at the University of Göttingen, Germany.
Langsdorff first participated as naturalist and physician in the great Russian scientific
circumnavigationexpedition commanded by Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern, from 1803 to 1805. He left the expedition in Kamchatkato explore the Aleutians, Kodiakand Sitka; and returned from San Franciscoby ship to Siberiaand thence to Saint Petersburgby land, arriving in 1808.
In 1813 Langsdorff was nominated
consulgeneral of Russia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He acquired a farm (named "Mandioca", or manioc) in the north of Rio and collected plants, animals and minerals. He hosted and entertained foreign naturalists and scientists, such as Johann Baptist von Spix(1781-1826) and Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius(1794-1868), and explored the flora, fauna and geography of the province of Minas Geraiswith French naturalist Augustin Saint-Hilairefrom 1813 to 1820.
The Langsdorff Expedition
In 1821 he proposed to the Tsar Alexander I and to the Academy of Sciences to lead an ambitious exploratory and scientific expedition from
São Pauloto Pará, in the Amazon, via a fluvial route. In March 1822, he returned to Rio in the company of scientists Édouard Ménétries(1802-1861), Ludwig Riedel(1761-1861), Christian Hasse and Nester Gaverilovitch Rubtsov (1799-1874), who would take care of zoological, botanical, astronomical and cartographical observations during the expedition. With the aim of illustrating and documenting his findings, the Baron hired painters Hércules Florence, Johann Moritz Rugendasand Adrien Taunay. The inventor of the bicycle Karl von Drais was also a participant in the expedition.
After extensive preparations, the Langsdorff Expedition departed with 40 people and 7 boats from
Porto Feliz, by the Tietê riveron June 22, 1826and reached Cuiabá, in Mato Grossoon January 30, 1827. The expedition was then divided into two groups: the first one, with Langsdorff and Florence, was able to reach Santarémon the Amazon Riveron July 1, 1828, with enormous difficulties and suffering. Most of the members of the expedition became ill with tropical fevers (most probably yellow fever), including the Baron de Langsdorff. As a consequence of the febrile attacks, he became insane at the Juruena Riveron May 1828. Adrien Taunay died by drowningin the Guaporé riverand Rugendas abandoned the expedition before its fluvial phase. Therefore only Florence remained during the whole expedition. The expedition was joined again in Belémand returned by ship to Rio de Janeiro, arriving on March 13, 1829, almost three years and 6,000 km after its departure.
Huge scientific collections were deposited into
Kunstkameraand later formed basis for South American collections of Russian museums. However, the rich scientific records of the expedition, comprising many descriptions and discoveries in zoology, botany, mineralogy, medicine, linguisticsand ethnography, that were sent to Saint Petersburgby the expedition, were not published and were lost in the archives for a century. They were found again by Soviet researchers in funds of the USSR Academy of Sciencesarchive in 1930. [ [http://reports.travel.ru/reports/2002/180702.html Still Amazing Amazonia] ] Due to the travel's hardships, Langsdorff team was unable to collect many biological specimens or study them in detail, so most of their account is geographic and ethnographic, being particularly interesting on the many indigenous people of Brazilthey met, many of which became extinct. Today, a large part of the material has been recovered and is in the Ethographic Museum, the Zoological Museum and in the repositories of the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg.
Langsdorff returned to Europe shortly thereafter, in 1830, and died in
Freiburg, Germany, of typhus, in 1852.
* Diaries of Russian Complex Academic Expedition into Brazil in 1824-1826 Under Leadership of Academician G. I. Langsdorff (in Russian, Russian title: Дневник русской комплексной академической экспедиции в Бразилию в 1824-1826 гг. под началом академика Г. И. Лангсдорфа).
Moscow: Nauka, 1995. Available [http://www.vostlit.info/Texts/Dokumenty/reisen.phtml?id=2893 online] (scroll down the page)
* Langsdorff, G. H. von. "Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World, during the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, and 1807". Illustrated by Engravings from Original Drawings. London: Printed for Henry Colburn and Sold by George Goldie, Edinburgh; and John Cumming, Dublin, 1813.
* "Os Diários de Langsdorff". Translation into Portuguese. Vol.1 (Rio de Janeiro e Minas Gerais, 8 de maio de 1824 a 17 de fevereiro de 1825), Vol.2 (São Paulo, de 1825 a 22 de novembro de 1826), Vol.3 (Mato Grosso e Amazônia, 21 de novembro de 1826 a 20 de maio de 1828). Organized by Danuzio Gil Bernardino da Silva. ISBN 85-86515-02-7. 1997. 400p. (vol. 1); ISBN 85-86515-03-5. 1997. 333p. (vol.2); ISBN 85-86515-04-3. 1998. 298p. (vol. 3). il. Co-edition with the "Associação Internacional de Estudos Langsdorff" and the "Casa de Oswaldo Cruz", Rio de Janeiro.
* Barman, Roderick J., "The Forgotten Journey: Georg Heinrich Langsdorff and the Russian Imperial Scientific Expedition to Brazil, 1821-1829," "Terrae Incognitae", 3, 1971, 67-96
A film documentary, featuring
Adriana Florence, a grand-grand-granddaughter of Hércules Florence living in Campinas, Brazil, has been made by the Discovery Channeland retraces part of the expedition's itinerary. It also visited St. Petersburg's Langsdorff museum collections. The director was Mauricio Dias.
* [http://www.terrabrasileira.net/indigena/povos/povos.html Indians in Brazil] . In Portuguese.
* [http://latin.discovery.com/features/000914langsdorff/langsdorffhome.html Tras las Huellas de la Expedición Langsdorff] . Discovery Channel in Spanish.
* [http://www.calacademy.org/exhibits/science_under_sail/people.html Great Russian Voyages]
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