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The international dimension

Blumenbach’s writings and their publication and translation history exemplify the European and even transatlantic dimensions of the societas litterarum of his age. Blumenbach was in close contact with many of the leading naturalists in scientific centres such as Paris and London, but also Amsterdam, Geneva, Copenhagen, Padua and St. Petersburg. Noteworthy, too, are Blumenbach’s contacts with the young United States of America.

As a teacher Blumenbach was exceptionally influential and inspired many of his pupils to follow in his footsteps. Several of them later occupied academic chairs in various parts of Europe, including Russia. Moreover, he influenced a number of scientific travellers and explorers, among whom Alexander von Humboldt and Maximilian Prince zu Wied.

Joseph Banks (1744–1820). Mezzotint by W. Dickinson  after an oil on canvas (1771–1773) by Joshua Reynolds  (1723–1792). Banks was President of the Royal Society (1778–1820) and served as Blumenbach’s gateway into English learned society.