Carl Gustav Carus

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Carl Gustav Carus

Carl Gustav Carus by Johann Carl Rössler
Carl Gustav Carus (3 January 1789 – 28 July 1869) was a German physiologist and painter, born in Leipzig, who played various roles during the Romantic era. A friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, he was a many-sided man: a doctor, a naturalist, a scientist, a psychologist, and a landscape painter who studied under Caspar David Friedrich.

Life and work

In 1811 he graduated as a doctor of medicine and a doctor of philosophy. In 1814 he was appointed professor of obstetrics and director of the maternity clinic at the teaching institution for medicine and surgery in Dresden. He wrote on art theory. From 1814 to 1817 he taught himself oil painting working under Caspar David Friedrich, a Dresden landscape painter. He had already taken drawing lessons from Julius Diez and subsequently studied under Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld at the Oeser drawing academy.

When the King of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II, made an informal tour of Britain in 1844, Carus accompanied him as his personal physician. It was not a state visit, but the King, with Carus, was the guest of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Windsor Castle, and Carus was able to visit many of the sights in London and the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, and meet others active in the field of scientific discoveries. They toured widely in England, Wales and Scotland, and afterwards Carus published, on the basis of his journal, The King of Saxony's Journey through England and Scotland, 1844.

He is best known to scientists for originating the concept of the vertebrate archetype, a seminal idea in the development of Darwin's theory of evolution. In 1836, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Carus is also noted for Psyche (1846).

Carl Jung credited Carus with pointing to the unconscious as the essential basis of the psyche.

Although various philosophers, among them Leibniz, Kant, and Schelling, had already pointed very clearly to the problem of the dark side of the psyche, it was a physician who felt impelled, from his scientific and medical experience, to point to the unconscious as the essential basis of the psyche. This was C. G. Carus, the authority whom Eduard von Hartmann followed. (Jung [1959] 1969, par. 259)

Carus died in Dresden. He is buried in the Trinitatis-Friedhof (Trinitatis Cemetery) east of the city centre. The grave lies in the south-west section, against the southern wall. The grave is currently (2015) identified for removal due to non-payment of fees.

The standard author abbreviation Carus is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.

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Mönch in Winterlandschaft

Abenddämmerung bei Schloß Moritzburg

Abendliche Gebirgslandschaft mit Flusstal und Klosteranlage

Abendliche Mittelgebirgslandschaft

Ansicht von Priessnitz bei Dresden

Ausblick in Hosterwitz


Balcony Room with a View of the Bay of Naples

Baum über Steinen

Baumstudie bei Hosterwitz


Blick auf Dresden bei Sonnenuntergang

Blick auf Dresden von der Brühlschen Terrasse

Blick auf Florenz.jpg
Carl Gustav Caru

Blick vom Montanvert auf die Montblanc-Gruppe (1822-24)

Blick über eine Waldlandschaft

Blick über einen bewaldeten Abhang in weite Gebirgslandschaft

Blühende Holunderhecke im Mondschein (ca.1825)

Boot im Eis

Brandung bei Rügen

Bäume im Frühling

Castel dell'Ovo

Das Atelierfenster

Das Eismeer bei Chamonix

The Imperial Castle

Die Musik

Ein überwucherter Stolleneingang

Faust im Gebirge

Frühlingslandschaft im Rosenthal bei Leipzig

Geborstener Baumstamm (1812)

Geognostische Landschaft (1820)

Gotisches Fenster in der Ruine des Klosters Oybin

Haus Carus in Pillnitz

Hochgebirgstal (1822)

Hünengrab mit ruhendem Wanderer

Im Keppgrund bei Hosterwitz

Italienische Fischer im Hafen von Neapel

Italienischer Mondschein (Rom, Peterskirche im Mondschein)

Kahler Baum im Herbstnebel

Barge Trip on the Elbe near Dresden (Morning on the Elbe)

Kloster Monte Oliveto bei Florenz


Fenster am Oybin im Mondschein


Wanderer on the Mountaintop

Tintern Abbey