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Summit lava dome of Mount Merapi, Java, Indonesia

Plate X, Nordseite Des Merapi, lithograph by E Baensch Junior from a drawing by Emil Baensch, in Dr Fr [Franz Wilhelm] Junghuhn (1809–1864), Reise Durch Java, Magdeburg: Emil Baensch, 1845

Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn (1809–1864) was a German botanist and physician who spent most of his adult life in Indonesia, where he is renowned for his role in establishing cinchona plantations for quinine production. His eyes were said to be his most striking aspect, bright and sharp like a raptor’s, and he empowered them further with aid of a telescope to survey Java’s prolific volcanoes.

Junghuhn’s exuberant, visual works – several books and an album of coloured lithographs – reveal great passion for his subject and a unified vision of nature.

He first climbed Mount Merapi in 1836, and the volcano features prominently in Reise Durch Java (1845) and in the Java Album (1856), a collection of 11 lithographs. Both include remarkably faithful depictions of Merapi’s lava dome, its crown edged with spiny protrusions and billowing fumaroles whose diverging plumes portray the convoluted airflow at the volcano’s summit.

Clive Oppenheimer , Volcanologist

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