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Claus Caspari
(1911-1980)

German natural history artist Claus Caspari was born in Munich and raised in the Bavarian Highlands at Marquartstein. He became interested in botanical illustration at an early age, through the influence of his mother; his father was also an artist—a successful landscape painter—but had died when Claus was only two years old. He also loved minerals, and began collecting rocks and minerals as a small boy, accumulating a cupboard full of them.

Following high school Claus worked for the German art firm of Hanfstaengl, a maker of art prints, selling the artwork of other artists from 1930 to 1941. “Then one day in 1936,” he told an interviewer, “I had an idea, let's call it an inspiration, that I might do better myself, and instead of selling other people's rubbish, excuse me, other people's things, I might well do better in painting things myself.” After the war he and his mother ran a translation service for a short while, but in 1947 he quit to become a full-time artist. A chance meeting in 1948 with entomologist Prof. Dr. Hans Krieg, Director of the scientific collections of the State of Bavaria, resulted in his first major commissions in 1949-1951—mostly Alpine plant illustrations but two plates of mineral specimens as well. During the 1950's he took regular mineral collecting trips to the mountains. In 1953 he was approached by the publisher Erich Cramer, and for many years thereafter produced paintings of plants, minerals and mushrooms for publication. Caspari specialized in highly detailed and realistic scientific illustrations painted in the style of James Sowerby—the specimen floating on a white background. About scientific illustration he said: “An artist in our métier must dance at two weddings at once. He must be a good artist and meet the artistic requirements, but he must also have sufficient knowledge about the scientific details of the subject.”

Caspari's botanical guidebook, Der grosse BLV Pflanzenführer, contains over 1500 watercolor illustrations of blooming plants of Middle Europe; his book Der BLV Pflanzenführer für Unterwegs consists of 1150 paintings of flowers, grasses, trees and bushes; and his 1963 book on Middle European mushrooms contains 180 of his paintings. In 1971-1972 the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh presented a special exhibit of the animal, vegetable and mineral paintings Caspari had done. His most important mineralogical work was the Mineralien volume of the Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln series, containing 7.5 x 10.5-inch unbound prints of 162 paintings of mineral specimens selected from the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich and other well-known mineral collections. Caspari also provided the 154 mineral illustrations for A Collector's Guide to Minerals and Gemstones (1971) and The Studio Handbook of Minerals (1972) by Hellmuth Boegel. Very few of his originals have ever been sold. His work is shown here with the permission of the owner of the works, Mrs. S. de Zarobé-Cramer, Hamburg.

W.E.W.

References:
Robinson, S. (1987) Mineral art today. Rocks & Minerals, 62 (5), 328-343.
Lawrence, G. (1971) Unpublished interview with Claus Caspari. A manuscript copy of an English translation of the interview is on file in the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh.

Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of artworks found: 16 | Artworks being viewed: 9 to 16

The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Quarz - Rauchquarz (Smoky Quartz) Quarz - Rauchquarz (Smoky Quartz)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 7-inch smoky quartz gwindel cluster from Fiescher Horner/Berner Oberland, Switzerland (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted 1.5X natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Bleiglanz - Galenit (Galena) Bleiglanz - Galenit (Galena)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 6.3-inch galena crystal cluster with siderite from Neudorf, Saxony, Germany (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Turmalin - Elbaite (Elbaite Tourmaline) Turmalin - Elbaite (Elbaite Tourmaline)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 6.5-inch cluster of elbaite and quartz on feldspar from Mursinka, Ural Mountains, Russia (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Brasilianit (Brazilianite) Brasilianit (Brazilianite)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 5.5-inch brazilianite crystal cluster from Corrego Frio near Linopolis, Minas Gerais, Brazil (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Rutil (Rutile) Rutil (Rutile)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 2.4-inch group of rutile crystals on hematite with quartz from Cavradi, Switzerland (top) and a 1.5-inch reticulated rutile with quartz from Val Medel, Switzerland (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted twice natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Spinell (Spinel) Spinell (Spinel)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 3.3-inch tan-colored spinel crystal from Madagascar and red, 0.15-inch crystal from Burma (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted 1.5X and 6X natural size, respectivel. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Beryll (Beryl) Beryll (Beryl)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 6.3-inch beryl crystal from Malacacheta near Diamantina, Brazil (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
The Mineralogical Record: Claus Caspari - Muskovit (Muscovite) Muskovit (Muscovite)
Watercolor on paper, about 8 x 12 inches (1967), depicting a 7-inch cluster of pegmatitic muscovitecrystals from near Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil (probably from the collection of the Mineralogische Staatssammlung in Munich), painted a little less than natural size. Published in Mineralien: Sammlung naturkundlicher Tafeln (1967), with text by Helmut Schrocke and Karl Weiner. Copyright 1969 Kronen-Verlag Erich Cramer, Hamburg. Whereabouts of original painting: unknown.
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